On Top of Mt. Rumpke

Where our trash goes to be reborn.

How Cincy Works: For our June 2015 issue, we explored (and tried to explain) the ins and outs of the Queen City.

You smell it before you see it. The Rumpke Sanitary Landfill (RSL) in Colerain Township contains some 45 million cubic yards of compacted garbage. If you throw something away in Cincinnati, its final resting place is at the RSL. But if you’re imagining a huge open trash heap, you don’t have the whole picture of what it takes to run a modern-day landfill.

 

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Trash is organized into cells (1.) lined with layers of clay and plastic (2.); sand; and gravel (3.) to absorb and drain moisture and to keep the whole mess out of the ground water (4.). RSL also has a fleet of garbage trucks that literally run on garbage. Methane gas (emitted from trash (5.)) gets converted into natural gas in one of three on-site plants (6.). This is then piped to Duke Energy, which uses it to power 25,000 local homes. The first stop on this line is Rumpke’s compressed natural gas fueling station (7.), which supplies fuel to retrofitted garbage trucks (8.), which then collect…wait for it…more garbage! It’s the circle of life.

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