Did you know that the amount of trash buried in landfills has doubled since 1960? The United States
ranks about in the middle of the major countries (United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and Japan)
in landfill disposal. The United Kingdom ranks highest, burying about 90% of its solid waste in landfills.
According to the Keep America Beautiful website, Americans generate 251.3 million tons of garbage per
year. Since 1960, the amount of waste generated in America has nearly tripled. That means that we
Americans discard four-fifths of a ton of trash per person, per year (National Geographic Channel). Sixtyfive percent of this trash comes from residences, while 35% comes from schools and commercial
locations such as hospitals and businesses. Additionally, for every pound of garbage people generate,
about seven pounds of waste are produced “upstream” (in the manufacturing process, before the
product gets to the consumer).
Where does all of this trash end up? Fifty-five percent gets buried in landfills, 33% gets recycled, and
12.5% goes to incinerators. With a little forethought, we could reuse or recycle more than 70% of the
waste that goes to landfills, which includes valuable materials such as glass, metal, and paper.