Trash Culture: US Produces Nearly 5 Pounds of Garbage Per Day Per Person

Fort Collins, CO - JULY 12: One of several trash collection trucks brings its load and dumps it in Area 5A which is in the "working phase" and crews continue to build and properly contain the cell that will eventually be capped. Residents of Larimer County bring their recyclable items to the Waste Management Recycling Center and crews work with Area 5A at the Larimer County Landfill on July 12, 2018 in Fort Collins, Colorado. (Photo By Kathryn Scott)

What the heck do we do with it?

The US is the Global Leader in Trash Production.

At 4.9 pounds of trash per person, per day, the U.S. is the most wasteful country on the planet. Of the 292.4 million tons of refuse Americans generated in 2018, half was buried in landfills while another 32% was recycled or composted, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rest was burned (the preferred term being “combusted”) to generate electricity.

Over the past three decades, the rate of U.S. recycling and composting has more than doubled. During that same period, however, the number of available landfills shrunk by about 74%. 

Exporting Garbage

Recycling may have doubled, but that’s from a very low level.

Garbage exports went to zero thanks to Trump’s trade war with China.

Since China stopped importing U.S. recyclables in 2017, cities have been scrambling to find new markets for plastics and other materials that would typically be repurposed, said Mike Ewall, a Philadelphia-based environmental activist and executive director of the Energy Justice Network.

Environmentalists says don’t burn it and China will no longer take it.

Meanwhile, the number of landfills are shrinking. Many of the ones in existence are very poorly managed. 

Even double-lining is questionable. Single lining of landfills is a disaster in waiting.

Exacerbating the concerns of local residents isn’t just what’s going into landfills, but what’s coming out. According to Nichols, garbage imported for disposal contributes to leachate, a liquid that forms when rain water filters through garbage. The result is a toxic soup that can include mercury, arsenic and lead. 

Maine doesn’t test leachate for PFAS levels at commercial or state-owned landfills like Juniper Ridge, Nichols said, leaving the Penobscot tribe in the dark about the level of toxicity of the leachate being discharged into the river. The Maine DEP didn’t reply to requests for comment.

Landfills typically apply liners, or barriers made of plastic or clay, to prevent toxin from leaking out. Most states require a two-liner system, but Maine only requires one, said Peter Blair, an attorney with environmental nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation. “All landfills eventually have leachate seep out once liners start to disintegrate,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if it will leak, but rather when.” 

Fully Compliant With Loose Standards

In a statement, Casella Waste Systems said the Juniper Ridge Landfill is “fully compliant” with Maine environmental regulations.

Casella collects a “tipping fee” from ReEnergy for taking its waste. Fees for construction and demolition debris vary, but range from $33 to $95 per ton, according to the state’s environmental agency. 

What do you think?

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2 months ago

It gets crushed into small dense blocks and used as abase in old landfills to build houses on. Ignore the leg bone or two sticking out.

2 months ago

I hardly have any trash. I hardly buy crap. You know… fight club.

2 months ago

Huh! Who says we don’t make anything.

2 months ago

Most clean plastics should be thermolyzed (not burned) to create electricity. Pay per pound and you will have people bringing you stuff 24/7. Glass is the better packaging for food as well. Better for the environment just because it doesn’t break down into toxic chemicals. Again, put a small deposit on each bottle and most of it will be returned clean and reusable.

2 months ago


Search This
2 months ago

What do we do with the trash? We elect it to congress.

Nailed It
2 months ago

Pack it into Kim Kardashian’s @zz. She’s single now and it needs stuffing. Plus, no one will notice.

V for Vendetta
2 months ago

No worries. The globalist’s planned depopulation should take care of this little problem quite nicely.

2 months ago

They already did and nobody noticed!

2 months ago

Dump it in San Francisco no one will notice.



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