Archaeological records indicate that landfills have been around since the stone-ages (White-Hunt, 1980; 1981a,b). It is unlikely though, that the stone-age communities dug pits specifically for the disposal of wastes. Such landfills may have developed because a natural pit was available, hence traditional processes of landfilling simply involved dumping of refuse. It is not known whether such landfills were used specifically for the disposal of agricultural wastes or other types of wastes. Currently, a variety of agro-industrial wastes and sludge are disposed of to landfills, in addition to its established use for disposal of municipal solid waste and wastewater sludge, a variety of hazardous and other industrial and domestic wastes (Nguyen et al., 2007; Monte et al., 2008). In 1993, landfills were used to dispose 62% of all municipal solid wastes generated in the United States (Barlaz, 1997). Landfilling has the advantage of reclaiming devastated and ruined lands, and also has viable recycling potential, because of its capacity to generate usable off gas as methane. In addition to conventional landfilling which is an anaerobic process, aerobic landfilling has been reported to offer rapid waste stabilization and to have potential for long term use in the management of municipal solid waste, particularly where the principal objective is waste stabilization and reuse as soil amendment and manure rather than for biogas generation (Erses et al., 2008).
Limited availability of sites and the risk of contamination of underground waters are the major impediments to the wide applicability of landfills. To contain the latter problem, and also prevent the biogas from escaping into the atmosphere, has necessitated intensive research into the engineering of landfill for environmentally sound procedures. The fact that some wastes may not be recycled using other available technologies and are therefore technically non reusable at the moment, in addition to its comparatively low cost, assures landfill a future that can only be limited by the availability of land. However, this potential long term value is constrained by increasing stringent concerns for the safety of environment and possible contamination of underground waters. In addition, the very long life span of a landfill requires that the process or site is continually monitored. It is on account of these that various legislations exist that seek to constrain the use of landfills (Council of European Union 1999; Erses et al., 2008). Sound landfill processes also involve complex and often expensive engineering procedures that may constrain the use of the process in less developed countries.
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