In 1978, there were approximately 20,000 landfills. By 1988, that number had dropped to 5,499. Currently the figure stands at 3,091. The EPA estimates that as of the 2008, only 1,234 landfills were available.
Only 3 active landfills on Long Island.
All landfills will eventually fail and leak leachate into ground and surface water. Plastics are not inert. State-of-the-art plastic (HDPE) landfill liners (1/10 inch or 100 mils thick) and plastic pipes allow chemicals and gases to pass through their membranes, become brittle, swell, and breakdown.
"...82% of surveyed landfill cells had leaks while 41% had a leak area of more than 1 square feet," according to Leak Location Services, Inc. (LLSI) website (March 15, 2000).
All landfills could require remediation, but particularly landfills built in the last 60 years will require a thorough clean-up due to the disposal of highly toxic chemicals manufactured and sold since the 1940's.
The U.S. generated 143.5 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris in 2008, but only 28% (40.2 million tons) was reused, recycled or sent to waste-to-energy facilities.
Consider that one year's debris is enough to build a wall about 30 feet high and 30 feet thick around the entire coast of the continental United States (4,993 miles).
How much do your building projects impact these numbers? Consider the following:
- The average new construction project yields 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot of building area. Example: A 50,000-square-foot building = 97.5 tons of waste.
- The average building demolition yields 155 pounds of waste per square foot. Example:A 50,000-square-foot building = 3,875 tons of waste.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, a typical 2,200 sq.ft. home requires 13,000 board feet of framing lumber. If laid end to end, that framing lumber would stretch 2.5 miles.
If all the dimensional lumber used to build the 1.2 million new homes constructed in the United State each year were laid end to end, it would extend 3 million miles, the equivalent of going to the moon and back six and a half times.