Refuse and Recycling Blog

20 Horrifying Waste Management Statistics and Facts About Landfills

Posted on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Waste management

It seems like every time you turn on the television you hear a news story about a local landfill reaching capacity or a city fighting the addition of a new dump.

Unfortunately, landfills are reaching capacity on a regular basis, which leaves towns and counties needing to find new ways to deal with the growing waste problem. While you may not be able to solve your town’s trash problem yourself, every little thing you do helps.

Waste Management Statistics and Facts

Keep in mind these shocking landfill facts and statistics and perhaps you will be inspired to make changes in your life. 

  1. Reports show that Americans generate between 250 and 400 million tons of garbage each year--all of which requires landfill space.
  2. 53.4 of paper products are recycled in the United States - While this is a huge improvement over years before, there is still big room for improvement!
  3. The average office worker uses over 500 paper cups per year. Think of the impact of reducing this by only half!
  4. The amount of waste generated has tripled since 1960.
  5. The United States has the highest amount of waste generated per person of any country at an average of 4.6 pounds per day.
  6. Only around 1/10 of solid garbage in the United States is recycled each year.
  7. Despite this seemingly low rate, this is still an increase of around 100% over the last decade--we are making improvements!
  8. Each year around 100.2 billion plastic bags are used by Americans.
  9. In the Pacific Ocean,  there is a “Plastic Island” twice the size of Texas that was created by dumping waste into the ocean.
  10. 36% of what is thrown away in the US each year is paper or cardboard--much of which is recyclable.
  11. The United States has over 3,000 active landfills and over 10,000 “old” landfills. All of these create hazardous gas and could be a danger to groundwater.
  12. Aluminum can be recycled innumerable times with no loss of quality, yet only a small fraction of cans are.
  13. When Ireland enacted a 15 cent per bag charge, consumers consumed 90 percent fewer bags.
  14. Each day, people in the U.S. throw enough trash away to fill 63,000 garbage trucks.
  15. An average American throws away around 1,200 pounds of waste each year that could be composted and kept out of the landfill.
  16. While recycling is increasing each year, so is consumption--Reducing consumption while increasing recycling is the key to reducing landfill usage.
  17. Each ton of paper recycled can save three cubic yards of landfill space.
  18. During the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, an extra million tons of waste is generated--per week.
  19. 38 million miles of ribbon are put into landfills each year. That is enough to tie a bow around the earth.
  20. Plastic bottles put into the landfill will take thousands of years to decompose since they are shielded from sunlight.

Key Takeaways: 

As you can see, the facts about landfills and trash can be a bit scary. However, it is an area in which everyone can make a difference. The statistics above show a lot of important information, but some of the takeaways include:

  • Landfills create dangerous gasses and are an unpleasant addition to the community.
  • Paper and plastics that can be recycled are not being done so at the degree that they should be--recycling initiatives are helping, but the problem is not solved.
  • Waste reduction and composting are also significant ways to reduce the amount of waste put into the landfill.

Need Help?

Interested in learning more about waste management best practices in Connecticut, contact us today!  
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Photo Credit
Statistics gathered from: 
  1. http://thinkoutsidethebin.com/2010/11/30/landfill-statistics-in-the-u-s-staggering/
  2. http://harmony1.com/recycling-infographic/
  3. http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html

Tags: waste management, waste management in Connecticut