Land space is quickly becoming one of modern day’s most valuable resources. As city planners look to reduce urban sprawl, solutions are being sought after in order to maintain city limits across the country. One major problem within cities, however, lies within the growth of local landfills. This predicament is making urban planners beg the question: what happens when these landfills fill up? The city of Lincoln, Nebraska is looking to answer this question by combating the rate at which local landfills are filling up by taking the initiative to boost recycling percentages.
At the rate Lincoln’s landfills are currently filling up, Lincoln's Bluff Road landfill will be full by 2032, and the North 48th Street construction and demolition material landfill site will be full by 2030. This staggering realization has pushed local politicians, as well as committees, to generate solutions to the problem at hand. One main solution considered is to encourage recycling citywide.
As Lincoln’s current recycling rate is sitting at around 18.4%, similar to that of the rest of the Midwest, it is nowhere near cities such as San Francisco’s 80% diverted wasted. Lincoln is looking to increase rates by offering curbside recycling, as well as educating local businesses on how to divert waste. Whether the program is to be mandatory has not been determined at this time, however Lincoln hopes that through implementation people will be encouraged to start recycling. Such simple things can lead to a huge difference and will likely help lessen the load placed on local landfills.
As Lincoln looks to expand its recycling base, I believe this reveals a lesson in sustainability. The demand to make smart decisions is now key in creating an environmentally sound future and taking steps such as reducing non-recyclable waste is a simple way to make a great impact.
One key question still remains though: should the solution for this waste issue be in reducing the source and consumption, or rather to just increase recycling?
Credits: Images by Lisa Gran. Data linked to sources.