Landfills are the most common method of waste disposal in the United States, and they can have significant environmental impacts. When waste is placed in a landfill, it is typically compacted and covered with soil or another material to prevent the spread of odors and pests. However, this process does not completely prevent the release of harmful substances, such as methane and leachate.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is produced as organic materials in the landfill decompose. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the United States, and this methane can contribute to climate change if it is released into the atmosphere. Leachate is a liquid that forms when water percolates through the waste in the landfill and becomes contaminated with harmful substances. If not properly treated, leachate can contaminate groundwater and surface water, posing a risk to human health and the environment.
In addition to these impacts, landfills take up a significant amount of space and can be unsightly. As the amount of waste in the landfill increases, so does the size of the landfill, leading to the loss of natural habitats and other environmental impacts. To reduce the environmental impact of landfills, it is important to reduce waste generation and increase the use of alternative waste management methods, such as recycling and composting.
Finding the correct landfill to serve your needs is easy in the information age and you can use a Landfill near me locator tool to filter out unwanted or remote results.
Landfills in the united states
Analyzing the data given by the EPA reveals the amount of waste generated increase based on type since 1960.
Municipal solid waste (MSW) management has evolved over the past several decades, with notable changes occurring between 1960 and 2018. In 2018, the per capita MSW generation rate was 4.9 pounds per person per day, an increase from 4.5 pounds per person per day in 2017. This increase is largely due to the inclusion of additional food waste management pathways by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To learn more about the data on food waste, you can refer to the EPA’s material-specific data on this topic.
Recycling by materials in the states (as of 2018)
Although there have been some positive developments in recycling in 2020, the most recent data from 2018 indicates that a total of more than 69 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) was recycled. The majority of this recycled MSW was paper and paperboard, accounting for approximately 67% of the total.
Metal made up approximately 13% of the recycled MSW, while glass, plastic, and wood comprised between 4% and 5% of the total. It is encouraging to see hints of growth in recycling, but it is important to continue efforts to increase recycling rates in order to reduce waste and preserve natural resources.
Knowing the fact starts the change
Learning about the data surrounding recycling can be a catalyst for change. When we understand the impact that our actions have on the environment and the benefits of recycling, it can motivate us to make more sustainable choices. By understanding the data on how much waste is produced and how much of it can be recycled, we can make informed decisions about how to reduce our own waste and increase our recycling efforts.
Additionally, understanding the data on the benefits of recycling, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the conservation of natural resources, can further inspire us to prioritize recycling in our daily lives. In short, learning about the data on recycling can help us make more environmentally conscious choices and drive positive change.