3 Process of Landfill Disposal Steps Explained

The process of landfill disposal includes; waste dumping, compaction and burial.

This article discusses the process of landfill disposal, as follows;



1). Waste Dumping (as part of the Process of Landfill Disposal)

Waste dumping is typically the first step in the process of landfill disposal.

It involves the introduction of any of various waste types into the landfill, where the waste is to be held.

Ideally, the waste dumping step should be carefully planned and controlled, in terms of the types of waste being dumped; the volume deposited in a single phase of dumping or in a single ‘cell’ of the landfill; and the method of landfilling that is used.

However, in most real-life cases, not much attention is given to these details.

Landfills can generally accept various types of waste; including municipal, commercial, demolition, and industrial materials [2].

For a given landfill site however, the specific type(s) of waste that can be accepted is based on the design, topography, drainage, capacity and geologic characteristics of the landfill. As a result, different types of landfills can be specified based on the type(s) of waste which they can accept.

The landfill itself should be equipped to minimize all possible environmental impacts of waste dumping. Placing liner materials like geosynthethic clay at the bottom of the landfill is one of the most essential measures that can be taken to achieve this [3].

Other measures include the integration of leachate collection, leachate treatment, air vent and landfill gas collection equipment into the landfill.

Each dumping phase should ideally have a limit of waste materials that can be introduced into the landfill. Controlling the volume for each dumping will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of compaction of the waste, and general maintenance of the landfill.

Process of Landfill Disposal: Waste Dumping (Credit: Chester Higgins, Jr. 1973)
Process of Landfill Disposal: Waste Dumping (Credit: Chester Higgins, Jr. 1973)


2). Waste Compaction

It is recommended that waste should be spread evenly across the surface area of the landfill after each phase of dumping, and then compacted or ‘crushed’ [1].

The reason for this is to reduce mass, increase density, and eliminate crevices through which vermin can invade the waste. Compaction is very essential for land recovery, in cases where one of the priorities is to fill-out the site and reverse the effects of severe erosion, excavation and other unfavorable processes.

Earthmoving equipment are commonly used for landfill waste compaction. These equipment may either be general construction equipment or specialized landfill compactors.

Compaction could also involve shredding of waste, although this is less common.

Effort is usually made to achieve maximum size reduction and density increase, from compaction of landfill waste. Based on effectiveness or intensity, landfill waste compaction can be described as mild, high or extreme.

Process of Landfill Disposal: Waste Compaction (Credit: Dietrich Krieger 2014)
Process of Landfill Disposal: Waste Compaction (Credit: Dietrich Krieger 2014)


3). Waste Burial (as part of the Process of Landfill Disposal)

Waste burial or waste covering, is the final basic step in the process of landfill disposal.

Cover materials used in landfills include soil and demolition rubble. These materials are used because of their inorganic origin and physicochemical stability.

Landfill waste is covered with soil or rubble for various reasons; including the reduction of odors, excessive aeration that could cause irregular and rapid biodegradation, infiltration and runoff that could cause leachate formation and stormwater pollution, vermin infestation that could lead to disease spread, habitat destruction and loss of native biodiversity, and scavenging that could compromise the integrity of the landfill.

Soil cover in landfills is also important as a source of microbes that can help with the breakdown of waste.

The goal in landfill waste burial is to sandwich the waste materials between two inert, protective layers; respectively the bottom liner and top soil cover.

It is recommended that landfill waste should be covered daily, or after each phase of disposal. The thickness of soil covering could fall between six inches (0.5 ft) and two feet.



Steps in the process of landfill disposal are;

1. Waste Dumping

2. Waste Compaction

3. Waste Burial



1). Hanson, J.; Yesiller, N.; Stockhausen, S. A.; Wong, W. W. (2010). “Compaction Characteristics of Municipal Solid Waste.” Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering 136(8). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0000324. (Accessed 8 November 2022).

2). Iravanian, A.; Ravari, S. O. (2020). “Types of Contamination in Landfills and Effects on The Environment: A Review Study.” IOP Conference Series Earth and Environmental Science 614(1):012083. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1088/1755-1315/614/1/012083. (Accessed 8 November 2022).

3). Shankar, U.; Mayakrishnan, M. (2017). “Comprehensive review of geosynthetic clay liner and compacted clay liner.” IOP Conference Series Materials Science and Engineering 263(3):032026. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1088/1757-899X/263/3/032026. (Accessed 8 November 2022).

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