A petition calling for the end of landfills and incinerator operations in five years is awaiting signatures on the White House website.

So far, few are signing on.

William Callahan, owner of Tamalpais NatureWorks in San Rafael, Calif., created the petition Sept. 22 on the website’s new “We the People” page, which allows citizens, with hopes of catching the Obama administration’s eye, to create petitions.

If the petition gets 5,000 signatures by Oct. 22, the administration will review it and respond. As of Sept. 30, it only had 14, but Callahan, 67, said he will persist.

“If we close landfills and incinerators in five years, we would make the country healthier and it would help us prosper. Corporations don’t want to see it, but we can no longer do this,” he said.

By dumping waste in landfills, Callahan said mankind is using the same method it did thousands of years ago.

Callahan said finding alternative means of disposal could mean big bucks for the waste and recycling industries.

“The big companies that are in the waste management business, they’ll be there and they’ll get bigger,” he said. “There is still a lot of money to be made and we’re going to be healthier for it. Seven thousand years ago, we put [trash] in a pit. Today, we’re still putting it in a pit.”

Deborah Barton, manager of the Montezuma County Landfill in Cortez, Colo., said landfills are misunderstood and that well-managed sites can be good neighbors.

“That’s absolutely ludicrous,” Barton said when asked about the five-year target for ridding the U.S. of landfills. “It’s not a realistic goal. I’m dismayed that we have people who just don’t think.”

Elizabeth O’Nan, director of the nonprofit group Protect All Children’s Environment in Marion, N.C., supports Callahan’s idea.

“I’d be looking for creative alternatives,” O’Nan said. “This method of throwing everything in a hole or burning it up won’t survive much longer.”

Those interested in signing the petition can do so at http://wh.gov/g05.

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