Ozarks Headwaters Recycling and Materials Management District

  • Recycle 417 Team

What happens when you throw something away?

Updated: Feb 22, 2019


So, what happens when you throw something away? It disappears forever, right?

Hmm…Not so much.


You know the general timeline: you throw something in your trash can, roll the can to the curb on the appointed day of the week, and then your trash hauler picks it up. It’s gone. Forever.


But is it?


Where does it go?

Items thrown in your trash bin end up in the landfill. According to Merriam-Webster, a landfill is “a system of trash and garbage disposal in which the waste is buried between layers of earth to build up low-lying land.”


So, what does that really mean?

Your trash goes into a large area specifically designated to collect trash. Over time, this area gradually fills up and is covered up with dirt and grass. But it’s still full of trash. That doesn’t magically go away.


Some items in landfills will break down over a long period of time, perhaps hundreds of years. Other items, like plastics, never go away. They may break into smaller and smaller pieces, but they don’t disappear.


Do we have a local landfill?

Yes, we do! Let’s learn more about it!

  • Our landfill has been open since January 1975, and over 7 million tons of waste has been disposed of at this facility since it opened.

  • The landfill is open 6 days per week and averages over 800 tons of trash per day deposited in the landfill.  Based on a recent waste audit, if properly handled, over half of each day’s items could have been repurposed or recycled!

  • The landfill is currently permitted to utilize 171 acres of land for solid waste disposal.  As of February 2019, approximately 150 of our 171 available acres have filled to capacity. Currently, it is estimated we have between 10-20 years left before the landfill is completely filled and would be closed.  An extension has been requested and if granted would extend the life of the landfill by 75-100 years.

  • The landfill employs 16 staff.

We are lucky to have a local landfill. But it won’t last forever.  


So, instead of throwing something away, what should you do?


Think about the 7 Rs: Rethink, Reuse, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Recycle, and Recruit!


After you’ve exhausted all possibilities, use the landfill as the last resort.