Rubbish Removal: Why Are Anaerobic Landfills So Harmful? – The Scientific Reason

The biggest problem with landfills is the fact that the rubbish removal taken to landfills is digested under ANAEROBIC CONDITIONS! This means that the breakdown of the rubbish removal takes place under conditions that LACK OXYGEN.

By contrast, the rubbish removal we put in a compost pile is digested under AEROBIC CONDITIONS! This means that the breakdown of the rubbish removal in a garden variety compost pile, versus a landfill, takes place under conditions with PLENTY OF OXYGEN.

Why do ANAEROBIC CONDITIONS (no oxygen) versus AEROBIC CONDITIONS (lots of oxygen) matter so much?

Rubbish removal is broken down by microorganisms, both at the landfill and in a garden compost pile. The key difference between the two decomposition processes is in the type of microorganisms that break down the rubbish removal. In a landfill, the microorganisms that break down the rubbish removal are the type that can survive in conditions that LACK OXYGEN (this exists in nature but is far less common). In a garden compost pile, on the other hand, the microorganisms that break down the rubbish removal require the presence of oxygen to survive, as most organisms on Earth do!

So, the key difference between a landfill and a garden compost pile is:

Anaerobic microorganisms VERSUS Aerobic microorganisms
(which depends on the lack or presence of oxygen)

Now, you are probably wondering why landfills are devoid of oxygen and why garden compost piles are full of oxygen?

Excellent question!

Compost piles have pockets of air between the decomposing particles! These pockets of air contain oxygen! In fact, this is why you are supposed to stir your compost pile about once a week. The stirring process introduces fresh air in the form of new air pockets which replenishes the oxygen supply in the compost. This makes the aerobic microorganisms doing the decomposition happy and they continue doing their decomposition activity. Earthworms burrowing through the compost and breaking up the particles through digestion also help create new oxygen filled air pockets between the compost particles.

Landfills are HUGE compared to garden compost piles. Their layers run DEEP. Rubbish removal gets deposited so often, layers upon layers upon layers are created on a weekly basis. The weight of all this rubbish removal packs the layers down so densely that no air pockets exist, and therefore, no oxygen exists. Any oxygen initially in a fresh layer gets quickly used up, any aerobic microorganisms present in the top layer quickly die off, and another layer of waste removal is dumped on top of the fresh layer, making it now part of the ANAEROBIC graveyard of rubbish removal we find in landfills!

Landfill operators also use machines to pack these layers down so they can fit more rubbish removal into the landfill. Why is this? It’s more profitable for one thing! It’s also more “efficient” in terms of the land space devoted to rubbish removal.

Now, you may also be asking why it matters whether rubbish removal is broken down by anaerobic microorganisms versus aerobic microorganisms?

Another excellent question!

Bottom line, when rubbish removal is broken down under anaerobic conditions (without oxygen, in a landfill), it is extremely harmful to the environment. On the other hand, when rubbish removal is broken down under aerobic conditions, it can actually be beneficial to the environment, assuming there are no harmful metals or chemicals in the rubbish (such as what you’d find in old computers and old appliances).

Under anaerobic conditions in a landfill, even vegetable scraps and yard waste removal becomes toxic! Highly combustible and highly toxic methane gas is produced, becoming one of the worst human impacts on global warming. Highly toxic leachate is also produced from this which then mixes with our ground water because no amount of landfill lining has been shown to stop this completely. This toxic leachate makes its way into our drinking water, creeks, rivers, lakes, and oceans!

So, a decomposing banana peel in an anaerobic landfill produces very harmful methane gas that gets trapped underground, creating dangerous conditions,. The methane is also released into the air as a toxin and this heavily contributes to the greenhouse effect. Keep in mind that methane gas is at east twenty times more potent as a greenhouse gas than the carbon monoxide produced by cars! It also takes a banana peel a REALLY LONG TIME (many decades) to fully decompose in a landfill.

By contrast, a decomposing banana peel in an aerobic compost pile, becomes high quality organic compost, full of highly beneficial microorganisms, that can be used to grow organic vegetables, fruits, grains, and oxygen producing and aesthetic landscape plants! Plus, it only takes a banana peel in a compost pile about three months to fully decompose.


While it would be far better to have aerobic landfills rather than anaerobic landfills, an even better solution is to find ways to drastically reduce the amount of rubbish removal that we as human beings create and send to the landfills. This means saying no to single use plastic cups/bags/etc, composting more, recycling more, buying fewer clothes, buying fewer toys, buying products that use no packaging or less packaging, supporting greener companies, participating in litter picks, finding ways to repurpose or upcycle old items, etc.

If you are an eco-conscious individual, or just someone who cares about the fate of your descendants and other genetic relatives on Planet Earth, you should be doing everything you can to keep any rubbish removal you do produce out of our landfills. This is where we all need to step back and take a close look at where our rubbish removal is being sent. Is it being taken to the landfills? Do we have any control over that? If you currently use your council’s rubbish removal service, you may be chagrined to find out that most of the rubbish you place on the street or in the alley DOES go to a landfill!

Does this impassion you? Does this make you angry? Does it make you want to do something about it?

If yes, then GREAT! We need more citizens to step up and voice their concerns. Contact your councils and tell them you don’t want the rubbish they collect going to anaerobic landfills that release so much greenhouse gases and put so many toxins into our water and soil!

You can also take another proactive step that will immediately and very substantially improve your own rubbish removal impact: call Clearabee and change your rubbish clearance service over to them. They are a private waste removal company that diverts about ninety percent of the rubbish they collect from the landfills.

How does Clearabee do this? From the inception of the company, they have been designing their processes to take rubbish to places that will upcycle, recycle, or reuse it! They have put a lot of thought process, planning, and implementation into this goal. This is why Clearabee now has the very best track record of diverting rubbish from landfills in the entire UK and one of the best track records across all of Europe in this regard!

Just by changing the rubbish removal service you use can make a huge impact. Give Clearabee a call and discuss their track record in this regard. You can also check on their prices and the different options they give their customers. They are in fact a far superior rubbish removal service than what the councils offer in multiple ways, even beyond the fact they divert the vast majority of the rubbish they collect from the landfills!