Above, one of three mounds at the Seneca Meadows Landfill in Waterloo, NY, as seen from the west side of Seneca Lake approximately eight miles away (through a telephoto lens). Credit: Kevin Colton, HWS.

EPA Region Map

EPA Region Map
EPA Region Map

Sunday, February 20, 2011


This week I bought new UGGs. They came wrapped in a plastic polyethylene bag. The label on the bag says "Biodegradable Polyethylene: Upon disposal this bag will biodegrade in 20 years". I questioned what kind of environment this bag needs to actually biodegrade. If placed in a landfill will the bag still biodegrade? Does the bag need sunlight, oxygen, and water to do so? I did some research on the bags and discovered that most were made of starch and break down like other organic waste in landfills. This use of biodegradable bags is more expensive for the company to use but is also more responsible. The bags take less time to break down in landfills than other plastic products and release less toxic gases. When I saw this I thought of the push to use compostable products on the HWS campus. The school, and the students, pay extra to use compostable cups, straws, and to-go boxes at the food facilities on campus. Students mostly compost these things while at the facilities but when they arrive home they are thrown into the trash. I believe that it is still a good thing that organic products are being used because their decomposition in landfills is still less toxic to the environment. The waste audit on campus proves that most of these products are in fact being thrown out rather than composted. I believe that if these products are going to be used on campus and their use is encouraged that there should also be a push for their responsible disposal.

1 comment:

  1. Call the manufacturer! That's a great question to ask: under what conditions will it degrade in 20 years?