Argument: Disturbing a landfill releases CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
Defense: Would that single mined dumpsite release more CO2 and other greenhouse gases than the CO2 and other greenhouse gases that would be created when all of those recovered goods like the metals aluminum, chromium, copper, gold, iron, lead, lithium, mercury, nickel, platinum, silver, steel, tantalum, tin, titanium, tungsten, and zinc, as well as glass, wood, paper, cardboard, plastics, Styrofoam, furniture, clothing and brick are manufactured or mined in their virgin state?
If the answer is no, then understand that there would still be an undisturbed landfill with its CO2 and other greenhouse gases plus all of the CO2 and other greenhouse gases created when goods like the metals aluminum, chromium, copper, gold, iron, lead, lithium, mercury, nickel, platinum, silver, steel, tantalum, tin, titanium, tungsten, and zinc, as well as glass, wood, paper, cardboard, plastics, Styrofoam, furniture, clothing and brick are manufactured or mined in their virgin state. I intentionally reiterated each consumable because they are all more harmful to create than they are to recycle or reuse. They could all be recovered from a landfill.
Keep in mind that some dumps incinerate their waste, even the salvageable recyclables. The smoke is, at the very least, attributing to the greenhouse effect.
Argument: Disturbing a landfill releases pollutants into the water.
Defense: Saying that disturbing a landfill releases pollutants into the water implies that it’s safe, and will remain safe, as it stands now.
In fact, each new layer of hundreds of thousands of acres of garbage gets soaked with rainwater every season which, in turn, the then-polluted or toxic water is soaked into the ground and feeds the water-table or run-off into local streams and rivers. With this in mind, wouldn’t it make more sense to go through the garbage and find toxic solids and liquids that were improperly disposed and correct that problem before it causes ill-health? This is an immense benefit of Landfill Mining, not even the original intent.
Argument: Recycling companies (the buyers) will not accept dirty recyclables.
Defense: If the recycling pulled from the landfill is too dirty for recycling companies to accept (it’s dirtier than recycling coming from households), then:
a) Have an intermediate clean-up crew in between the landfill and the buyers. This clean-up crew could be volunteers – everyone who has ever stood on a soapbox proclaiming that recycling is the way to go, needs to step down and get their hands dirty.
b) Recyclers will lower their standards and do the clean-up themselves so that they get the most of what we collect rather than a competitor (this would be a forced evolution).
c) Opportunistic new industry (the cleaners) is created.
If the recyclables are washed at home, on-site or at a cleaning facility, they are washed with the same water supply that ends up in the same streams and rivers, the difference is it’s not run through a sieve of toxic garbage, the inevitable course of rainwater on a landfill.
Lastly, Landfill Mining is not a forced operation. We won’t be breaking down gates and demanding that the municipal, state or federal landfill is ours to do with as we please. Any landfill, at any time, for any reason, can be deemed unsuitable and therefore not mined just like any other type of prospective mining location. If it’s not mined, though, it’s incinerated or buried under more toxic garbage. This not intended to depress you. The facts and figures here are not intended to overwhelm you. It is my intention to move you forward in the realization that there isn't just one pollutant, and if we, as humans, only fixed one pollutant, the dozen others would still kill us. We need broad-sweeping changes that improve sea, land AND air. Landfill Miners will do that.
To paraphrase Nobel Prize winning chemist, Madame Curie, the Earth is no more a baby. Albert Einstein said, “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” There is nothing we can do, at this level, about nuclear waste, and there’s nothing we can do, at this level, about medical waste – but we can do something, at this level, about landfill waste.