U.S. Trash Volumes Shockingly High

A new study indicates that the amount of waste being dumped in America's landfills is more than double (yes double!) what had been previously reported.

Researchers at Yale University found that Americans threw away 262 million tons of waste in 2012, as compared to the 122 million tons the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had reported for that year. The research team used the actual weight of incoming trash at the landfill gate versus the EPA's method of using estimates provided by business and industry associations. The study results were reported in the September 21 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change.

Much Worse than C02

The Yale study's goal was not just to look at incoming landfill waste, but to analyze the gasses being released, particularly methane. Methane is produced when certain materials—such as food and yard waste, clothing, and other organic substances—decompose. Methane is of special concern because it is much more powerful than carbon dioxide in insulating and warming the Earth.

The decomposition of municipal waste in landfills is already considered one of the largest sources of human-produced methane emissions in the world. With double the quantity of solid waste going into landfills, the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere will also be higher.

But is there a technological solution? The Yale researchers found that methane capture systems on open and operating landfills are inadequate to the job (closed and capped landfills are much better at preventing methane releases). In short, the Yale study sounds the alarm on landfill waste and the need to make it a high priority of concern in the fight against global warming.

Illegal Dumping Increasing

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As the quantity of waste our country produces continues to grow, the signs are not just at the landfill gate. Illegal dumping is on the rise, causing some municipalities to raise fines to deter would-be offenders from dumping trash wherever they please. In Worcester, Massachusetts, for example, even litter baskets have become overflowing dump sites overnight, leading the city to scramble to deal with the problem.

A Recycling Reminder

Planet Aid would like to remind everyone to reduce waste whenever possible and to donate or recycle unwanted clothing with the charity of your choice. Your clothing can be reused and recycled no matter the condition and will help ease landfill burdens and reduce methane emissions.

We hope that you choose Planet Aid when you clean out your closet. To find a conveniently located donation bin near you use our bin finder.