Landfill Facts: Where Does Your Garbage Go?


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Fun Landfill Facts

landfill facts
Do your part to send less waste to landfills by recycling. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Unless you live next to a landfill or work in waste management, your trash is out of sight, out of mind once you leave it on the curb and a garbage truck hauls it away. Have you ever wondered what happens at a landfill? There are different types of landfills and landfill alternatives that you’ll learn about in this post. Afterwards, you’ll know where your trash is sent and how to make sure less gets sent to it!

Usually on the RecycleScene blog, you learn about ways to send less waste to landfills, but the fact is: Trash Happens. Luckily, modern landfills are pretty well-engineered facilities. Here’s a quick round up of the different types of facilities in the United States that take care of your garbage along with helpful tips on what you can do to cut back on waste:

Municipal Solid Waste Landfills – Or MSW for short. These are what we mostly think of when we think of landfills because waste here comes from our homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses. On average, an American generates over 4 pounds of trash per day.

There are also Industrial Landfills, where nonhazardous waste associated with manufacturing and other industrial activities ends up.

Another type of landfill is the Construction & Demolition (C&D) Debris Landfills that contain- you guessed it- waste generated during construction, renovations, demolitions of buildings and bridges. The types of debris include: concrete, wood, asphalt, gypsum, metals, bricks, glass, plastics, trees, stumps, earth, rock, and building fixtures.

See our post on green demolitions to find out how much less waste it’s possible to send this type of landfill with proper planning during a remodeling project.

Fun fact: The biggest landfill in the U.S. is Apex Regional Landfill, located an hour north of Las Vegas, Nevada, it is At 2,200 acres and receives 9,000 tons of trash per day.

Learn More- It’s a Gas

Talk about creative reuse! As you may know, methane as wells as carbon dioxide are created as solid waste decomposes in a landfill. Projects are underway to creatively capture and reuse the emitted methane gas instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere.

Systems on a landfill site direct the collected gas to a central point where it can be processed and treated depending on what the gas will be used for, including to heat greenhouses, produce electricity, fire brick kilns, even fueling the garbage trucks that bring trash into the landfill in the first place. Read more about these exciting energy projects here.

What You Can Do

Act. Common household items like paints, motor oil, and batteries shouldn’t end up in landfills. Learn more about hazardous waste and do your part to make sure our groundwater stays clean and not contaminated.

Learn. Find more facts and a diagram of a modern landfill here.

Recycle. Have an old mattress or appliance you no longer need? Use our Search Bar in the upper right corner of this screen to learn tons of recycling tips for these items and how to recycle stuff you may have never thought was possible.

Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Read more in the Terms of Use & Disclosure link in footer. Thanks!


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