A landfill is a dirty trash dump by definition, and brings with it that negative connotation when general opinions are formed. All the opinions in the world cannot change facts – landfills are dirty and smelly trash piles. Not only does our weekly trash wind up in the landfills, but also disgusting food waste from restaurants, and even construction dumpsters full of trash from foreclosures. For the most part, cities and companies that run landfills don’t do anything to separate themselves from these stigmas – until now!

Landfills are required by law to abide by ‘good neighbor’ policies that include odor and noise control. South of Washington, DC, in Stafford County, VA, operators of the regional landfill are going above and beyond their public duty and therefore improving the general perception of landfill operations. In an unprecedented strategy, they are opening their gates to the public. Before I continue, let’s consider the potential problems and the likely reason that this is typically not done. The overwhelming stench that must be prevalent, is reason alone not to be open to the public, let alone the dangerous machinery and debris that is sure to be an insurance nightmare. However, this innovative landfill near DC is essentially involved in a multi-faceted PR campaign that is sure to change public opinion.

It’s motto is to preserve the landfill only for items that cannot be recycled or reused, therefore limiting the environmental damage as much as possible. If there was ever a strong public relations move for an industry that is generally unforgivably bad for the environment, it would be to take action on its motto. By offering composting classes to the public as well as tours through the landfill to learn about the debris that is being disposed, citizens not only have a more positive outlook of the landfill operations, but have successfully reduced the annual amount of disposal debris. Through the composting classes and continued education during the tours, this regional landfill have successfully diverted 100 tons of organic material that would have otherwise hit the dump site. By doing so, they give hope to other landfill owners & operators everywhere.