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Spending Billions on Garbarge

Updated on May 10, 2012
America's #2 Garbage site-Puente Hill
America's #2 Garbage site-Puente Hill

American trash. No, not the culture that many foreign countries consider to be satanic or bad, but literally our waste. No, not the sewer type, the consumerism type that most developed countries also face. Think of the problem- think China. Think the millions\billions of people there, each a consumer, each buying things of plastic, synthetic, wood, metal. Think how these items will end up when it has been used and discarded. America is just another problem.

Each American tosses out four - seven pounds of trash daily, on average, or 102 tons, during the average life span. While China's #1 export to the US are computers, the US #1 export to China is scrap rubber and metal\cardboard. America alone tosses out 40 billion plastic items, 28 billion pounds of food waste, enough steel to flatten Manhattan and then rebuild it and enough plastic shrink wrap to bundle up Texas annually. Studies show that if a person tosses out five pounds of trash daily, only a third of it is recycled, the rest end in a landfill. In Europe, they recycle nearly all of the trash and then what they do not is burned to create electricity.

American towns and cities spend more on getting rid of their trash than on public services. In NYC, it spends $2.2 billion on it, of which, $300,000 is the cost just to move the city's 12,000 tons of trash a day to out of state landfills that are 300 miles away! This amount of daily waste amounts to 62 747 Jets. And remember, this is just ONE major urban city. What does Los Angeles do?

L.A. has Puente Hills (near Whittier). This is a landfill that rises 500 ft. high and 700 acres contains waste from as far back as 60 years ago. This landfill produces a lot of methane gas that is gathered and pumped into generators to provide power to 70,000 homes. The L.A. site is home to 33% of the Los Angeles trash. While this landfill site is America's second largest, there are 1900 other smaller landfill sites across the nation. Germany has no landfills at all. Most other European countries only put 4% of their trash in them. America's biggest landfill is near Las Vegas, the Apex Regional Landfill north of Vegas currently receives 9,000 tons a day. In 2007, it was getting more like 15,000 tons a day. At 2,200 acres, it has enough room to keep pulling in waste at this pace for 200 years.

So, the next time you toss out the trash, think about what happens to it afterwards. Kinda scary!


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    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 5 years ago from USA

      Howdy perrya - Agreed - dumps are a real mess. Some folks are mining local dumps for the energy they can squeeze out of the flammable gas generated by decomposition of the trash. If you have to have a dump around, that takes a bit of the nuisance out of them I suppose.

      Gus :-)))

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      Thanks, interesting insight from across the pond.

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 5 years ago from Dartmoor

      Even though, we in Europe recycle a percentage, I can't help feeling we're just tinkering around at the edges of a problem. Whilst we diligently have three or four different bins in our homes and two for the garden, and spend time, rinsing empty items and separating our paper, card, plastic bottles, cans, glass and clothing industry does as it pleases to a large extent. Also, as we have quite strict rules on what the refuse guys will take, people illegally dump a lot of stuff in the countryside, such as refrigerators etc. Still we keep chipping away at the problem. There is also a plan now to weigh our landfill refuse bins and to charge us per kilo to remove household waste. Then watch the amount of illegal dumping increase! (Am stepping off my soap box now).

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Thanks for bringing this scary information forward - we are steadily covering our beautiful planet in garbage and pollution. Sobering stuff here!

    • farmloft profile image

      farmloft 5 years ago from Michigan

      Trash doesn't just stay in the state that creates it either. Trash travels between states and countries. Quite a business!

      Every person should visit a landfill at least once.

    • ProfessorDeG profile image

      ProfessorDeG 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Recycle, recycle, recycle. In my city they just started a program that pays companies & schools to come pick up their dumpsters filled with all things recyclable.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      Yes, an eye opener!

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 5 years ago

      Wow. Those are some shocking numbers.