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United Nations Environment Programme
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Newsletter and Technical Publications
<Municipal Solid Waste Management>

Sound Practices
Landfills

6.1 Introduction

Open Dumps in Accra, Africa
Open dumps such as this one in Accra abound in Africa.
(credit: Raymond Asomani-Boateng)

Landfills are a vital component of any well-designed MSWM system. They are the ultimate repository of a city's MSW after all other MSWM options have been exercised. In many cases, the landfill is the only MSWM option available after the MSW is collected. The safe and effective operation of landfills depends on the sound planning, administration, and management of the entire MSWM system. This begins with an institutional and policy environment that views MSWM as an important component in the sustainable development plans of a city and country. It continues with MSWM regulations that are designed to protect human health and the environment. It goes further with funding that is driven by the needs of the system rather than by political expediency. It ends with the coordination of MSWM programs, from waste reduction and resource recovery through collection, transfer, and ultimate disposal, into an integrated system. This system must provide a vital public service without compromising human health or the environment.

Landfills range in type from uncontrolled open dumps to secure sanitary landfills. Uncontrolled, open dumps are not a sound practice, but controlled dumps and sanitary landfills can provide effective disposal of a city's MSW in accordance with appropriate local health and environmental standards. This section will present sound practices for the safe, reliable, and effective landfilling of MSW under different local conditions.

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