The Waste Problem
Landfills have the potential for a broad range of environmental effects. Bacteria in landfills decompose organic matter and produce greenhouse gases; methane and carbon dioxide. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
A liquid cocktail of chemicals called leachate is produced as the landfill contents breakdown and rain water enters the site. Toxic leachate contains heavy metals, volatile fatty acids, ammoniacal nitrogen, aldehydes and alcohols.
Leachate has the potential to leak from landfills into ground water, soils and waterways. Although modern landfills are lined with plastic and clay, it is possible that they will fail after a period of a few decades.
Landfill sites continue to produce greenhouse gases and leachate 30 years after closure.
Paper recycling has been occurring at University of Waikato since the early 1990's. Cardboard, plastic (1 & 2), glass and cans recycling is also available throughout campus. - we have initiated recycling stations for some of this. The University is currently investigating the potential to expand recycling to include other materials such as organic waste.
Thanks to the initiative of many individuals and groups across campus there are a number of recycling or "green" disposal services you can take advantage of. See the Other Materials pages to find out where and when recycling services are available.
The University is looking at ways to reduce organic waste on campus, and is currently trialling a composter called the Hot Pod, built by engineering students.
We also have an industrial sized worm farm, colloquially known as the 'Faculty of Worms'. This system can contend with 3 tonnes of paper and food waste per annum. After 4 months, the decomposed matter is put on the University gardens as a rich fertiliser. Other initiatives to reduce organic waste include, the placement of smaller worm farms and compost bins around campus.