The rubbish tip is the place where all of the community rubbish is taken and buried after it is collected from houses and yards.

The rubbish tip is usually well away from the community. Rubbish tips are unhealthy places and children should not be allowed to play around them.

10.1 Finding the best site for the rubbish tip

Many things have to be remembered when a community is planning the best place to put its rubbish tip.

The tip should:
  • be down wind from the community, to help stops smells from the tip being blown back towards the community
Fig.  4.19: Rubbish tips should be down wind of community buildings.
Fig. 4.19: Rubbish tips should be down wind of community buildings.
  • not be too close to any rivers or creeks. This is to stop the creek from being polluted by solid rubbish blowing into the creek or by liquid waste soaking through the ground into the water
  • not be placed where the water table is close to the surface. This stops the water being contaminated when rain washes toxic materials and pollutants from the rubbish into the underground water
  • not be placed in or near an area which is important to the community, such as a sacred site, men's area, children's playground
  • be placed in an area where earthmoving machines will be able to get to it
  • if possible, be placed in a depression or hollow. This makes it easier to cover the tip with soil. It also hides the tip from view more than if it was on fiat ground. However, first check that the depression or hollow is not a natural water body, such as a soak
  • if possible, be placed in an area where the soil is easy to dig

10.2 Burying community rubbish

The ideal rubbish tip is a hole dug ready for the rubbish. This is usually a large trench (a rectangular hole). The soil is taken out of the trench and is piled to one side of it.
Fig.  4.20: Diagram of rubbish trench in which community rubbish can be buried.
Fig. 4.20: Diagram of rubbish trench in which community rubbish can be buried.

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Sewage and effluent should also be dumped at the rubbish tip. There should be a separate place at the tip where trenches are dug in which to empty sewage and effluent.
A track for vehicles will need to be made from the road to the working area of the trench. The track must be kept clear of rubbish so that trucks can get in and out easily to dump their loads in the right place.

Posts, guide fences, or old drums can be used to mark the place where the rubbish is to be put as the trench is used. Otherwise, people will not know where to dump their rubbish and it will end up all over the place.
Fig.  4.21: The place where rubbish is to be dumped should be marked.
Fig. 4.21: The place where rubbish is to be dumped should be marked.

Unless they are dumping rubbish, people should be kept away from the tip because of the risk of injury and of coming into contact with disease-causing germs. If possible, the rubbish tip site should have a fence around it with a lockable gate. There should also be a notice near the gate warning people of the dangers.

10.3 Trenching method of rubbish disposal

Before any rubbish is collected it is important to make sure that trenches are dug ready to receive the rubbish. Whether the tip is to be used by a large or a small community, each trench should be large enough to take at least 3-4 weeks' rubbish.

Where the community is a large permanent one, it is usual to dig several large trenches at one time. This is a more efficient use of tractor and operator time, particularly if the tractor is being borrowed or hired.

In the case of camps and small permanent communities, it is more efficient to dig enough trenches to take all the rubbish for the length of time of the camp or to meet the needs of a small permanent community for one year.

It is important to remember to dig a special trench to take sewage. A notice warning people that it contains dangerous sewage should be put next to this trench.

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Constructing rubbish disposal trenches

Where large trenches are needed they may have to be dug with a front-end loader. This is a large tractor with a scoop on the front. Each trench should be about 2 or 3 metres deep, 5 or 6 metres wide and about 20 metres long.

If the community is a large one, it is important that a suitable machine is used to dig the trenches. If the community does not have one and wants to buy or hire one, it is important to get advice from the local EHO or Environmental Health supervisor as to the best type for the job which needs to be done.

An arrangement may be made with the local authority to have trenches dug by its machines when they are in the area.

For camps and small communities the trenches can be smaller and may be constructed and filled by hand using a pick and shovel. They may take advantage of a natural hollow providing it is not a natural water body.

The EHP should consult with the local EHO as to the required size of rubbish trenches for their community.
Fig.  4.22: A rubbish tip for a small community or a temporary camp
Fig. 4.22: A rubbish tip for a small community or a temporary camp.

Filling the trench with rubbish

When the trench is being used, the rubbish is first put in at one end. When this section is filled with rubbish to within 150 mm (6 inches) of the top (ground level), it is covered with soil and the filling of the next section is started. Move along the length of the trench repeating this process until the trench is filled. Each section should be between 2 and 4 metres long and the operators use only one section at a time.

It is important to always place the rubbish as close as possible to the working area, rather than in the middle of the section.
Fig.  4.23:  Diagrams showing rubbish trenches which are completed, being filled and yet to be used.
Fig. 4.23: Diagrams showing rubbish trenches which are completed, being filled and yet to be used.

Because the rubbish is loose when it is put in the trench, it should be compacted if possible. If the rubbish is just covered and compacted, the ground will sink later on. This is dangerous because people who walk on top of full trenches can fall through holes where the rubbish is loose. If the area cannot be compacted it should be topped up with covering soil as it settles. Keep people away from these areas.

When sewage is dumped in a trench, the sewage should be covered with a layer of soil as soon as the water has soaked away.

Rubbish and sewage trenches are always separate.

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10.4 Sanitary landfill rubbish disposal method

A sanitary landfill site is an area of land where rubbish is dumped in layers or cells. Each layer or cell is covered with sand. Disused quarries, depressions or hollows make good sanitary landfill sites. This rubbish disposal method has been used extensively around cities to fill and level areas for later development.

Care must be taken when choosing a place for this kind of rubbish tip. This is because there may be small rivers or streams underground or a high water table and contaminants in the rubbish tip could soak through the soil into the water beneath. As a result, people and wildlife drinking the water could be poisoned.

It is necessary to contact an EHO to help choose a sanitary landfill site.

This method also requires a reliable vehicle or machine to maintain the tip and a supply of sand, because each time the rubbish is taken to the tip it must be covered.