Garbage has been dealt with dumping into a landfill by towns and cities on the world for many years. A layer of garbage covered by a layer of earth then another layer of garbage followed by more earth and on and on. Unluckily, simple cover does not make it disappear. The earth isn't recycling most of it. It still lye there, and will come back to nature in one form or another. In the end, some of it will soak up into the ground water or solid and spread disease, pollution and biohazards all over once again. Despite of the best try to contain and manage landfills, they end up being hideous eyesores which stinks up the neighborhood and lowering property values for miles around. Certainly, part of the garbage is biodegradable but most of it is simply being stored for later disposition when it goes to a landfill.
We all help when we sort out plastic, aluminum, newspaper and glass for recycling in our garbage but the vast majority of people's garbage still ends up going to the city dump or landfill. Some cities try to turn their old landfill into a park but it is often expensive because much of the old garbage is still there under it all. Many landfills are now recycling the methane that they create from the decomposition of organic waste. It is estimated that up to 15 percent of all methane that goes into the atmosphere is from landfills and garbage dumps. This is a good way of recycling but it only works for organic garbage.
An excellent new answer to the problem is to simply vaporize all the garbage. This may have been a fantasy of city planners 30 years ago but today the technology exists to cleanly vaporize garbage as a way of recycling it. This new technology involves burning the garbage in a closed loop plasma-arc gasification process. Garbage incinerators have been around for a long time now but unfortunately, they exchange one form of pollution for another. Incinerating garbage produces hazardous toxic chemicals and dioxins in both the smoke going up the stack and in the ash left behind. Plasma-arc gasification, however, burns at a much higher temperature and with reduced oxygen. It totally breaks down all forms of garbage into very simple molecules. There are only two by-products from this process; an inert slag and a combustible gas. The amazing part of plasma gasification is they use the combustible gas by-product to fuel a steam turbine electric generator. The electricity generated is enough to run the plasma-arc gasification system. This means that a plasma gasification facility with co-generation electricity generator is almost totally energy self-sufficient. The gas by-product of burning the garbage is used to create the electricity needed to operate the facility in an almost totally closed loop system. The gas exhausting from the electric generator is simply carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapor. The slag from the process is recycled as well. It is used for road construction and in building materials.
Plasma gasification facilities are not small or inexpensive and there is an operating cost involved in running them. Many towns and cities will not be able to afford one. But as landfills fill up more people will be looking for options. It offers one of the cleanest and most environmentally friendly ways of recycling all garbage.