- High winds from recent storms in the Midwest have created problems at landfills throughout the region. At the Billings Regional Landfill, Montana's largest, waste covered the site's fences and was blown hundreds of yards beyond, as reported by KXLF.
- In Wisconsin, the Orchard Ridge Landfill experienced similiar issues and at least one resident a half-mile away from the site reported waste had flown into his yard. Waste Management has booked clean-up crews into the weekend though they will only be focused on the site's borders, as reported by WISN.
- The Brent Run Landfill in Michigan closed three hours early on March 8 due to severe wind conditions that had downed trees and power lines, as reported by MLive.
Managing waste in these extreme weather conditions is a challenging but necessary part of running a landfill. Operators have taken this as an opportunity to advise residents about bagging their waste properly and responsive cleanup efforts can also help assuage public relations issues. Though the image of plastic bags caught in trees or blowing across a highway may still be enough to inspire opposition from local residents and environmental advocates for months to come.
This comes at an inopportune time for the Billings landfill in particular, as the city seeks state permission to expand the site. Public works officials say that a proposed $17 million project to grind the waste before burying it would help mitigate litter in these windy situations.
While landfill-related litter may frustrate residents after storms, the sites can also play a key role in the resulting clean-up. After natural disasters such as hurricanes or fires it often falls to haulers and landfill operators to help communities recover. Communicating the benefits of operations that many residents view as a burden is an ongoing challenge.