Excess plastic waste in landfills kills soil fertility

The increasing amount of plastic waste in landfills has raised a serious concern about the soil fertility among the environmentalists.

The daily door-to-door waste collection service by the civic body amounts to 650 tonnes of waste, of which 220 tonnes have the highest composition of plastic in it.

Apart from excessive use of plastic bags and unregulated disposal, improper segregation at the Vellaikal dump yard near the Madurai airport comprises of 5% of total waste that goes to landfilling. Also, four per cent of coconut shells, three per cent of glass and two per cent of tyres are dumped as waste.

Environmentalists say that a large amount of plastic dumping can affect the percolation of water.

” The plastic and polythene waste, when mixed with other garbage will take a long time to degrade as the life of the microbes that enhances the degradation process will be affected,” an environmentalist said.

They warn, the mixture can release poisonous chemicals, which can affect the groundwater water level and make the soil infertile in a long run.

As a solution to the problem, the experts suggest that the plastic found in landfilling can be burned using a mobile incinerator and the final product can be used as a base for cement and mould for furniture items.

In a bid to avoid the damage due to excess landfills, the corporation authorities have constructed pipes with smaller holes so that the liquid waste seeps into it and is collected in a tank. The collected water will be given for sewage treatment.

At present, the corporation segregates the solid waste and then separates the organic waste. The remaining plastic, after passing through the blower is either sold or recycled.

” Due to insufficient labourers, the plastic segregation is not done effectively. At least 20 labourers are needed to segregate the plastic bags to reduce the plastic composition in the landfills,” added a corporation assistant engineer.

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