Landfill Facts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever thought about where your garbage goes after it is taken from the curb? We certainly have, and we were a bit surprised by the information we learned about American landfills. To share this information with our readers, we decided to compile a list of landfill facts. 

  • The average American produces 4.5 pounds of waste each day, which is equivalent to 56 tons each year, to be taken to our landfills.
  • Of the garbage in those landfills, almost 30 percent is paper; 18 percent is food scraps and 16 percent is plastics. 
  • Our landfills are filled with Styrofoam products and used baby diapers, and they will be there for centuries.
  • Each year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic utensils to circle the equator 300 times.
  • Nearly one third of the average dump consists of packaging materials.
  • While Mexico City’s largest landfill was closed in 2011, trash continues to be dumped at the site. Before closing, the dumping site took in 12,000 tons of garbage a day.
  • The Fresh Kills landfill in New York was once rumored to be visible from space. Now, it is closed and being transitioned into a public park.
  • Some decomposition times courtesy of TLC: banana peels, it’s 2-10 days. Cotton: 1-5 months. Cigarette butts: 1-10 years. Aluminum cans: 80-100 years. Glass bottles: 1,000,000 years.
  • Although we only represent 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s waste.
  • The Puente Hills landfill in Los Angeles County is the largest landfill in the United States. It is estimated that six days a week, about 1,500 trucks deliver 12,000 tons of municipal solid waste. The landfill is 500 feet high, covers 700 acres, and hosts tours.
  • According to CleanAir.org, Alaska has 300 landfill facilities, while the entire northeastern region of the United States only has 134.
  • “Mount Rumpke,” a mountain of trash at the Rumpke sanitary landfill, is the highest point in Hamilton County, OH. It is a staggering 1045 ft. above sea level (USI.edu).

We hope you found these facts as eye-opening as we did! Knowing how much garbage we’ve piled up over time should encourage us to recycle more in the future. Just think, most of your trash will live on in landfills long after your time.