Trash by the Numbers: Shocking US Garbage Statistics


We don't have to live with our garbage, which is one of the best things about the modern sanitation system. The drawback of the modern sanitation system is that it frees us from living around trash. In my rebellious youth, I used to (half-jokingly) argue that littering ought to be encouraged so that everyone could see how much garbage we produce—if we had to live with it, we'd indeed create less, right? However, because of our excellent sanitation, we can build an endless amount of garbage, which is then magically removed to make room for new litter. That's development! (I realize that maintaining good sanitation is necessary to combat disease and squalor, but you get my point.)


We all know there's a lot of trash going on around here, I'm pretty sure of that. The figures, however, really drive the point home. To do that, SaveOnEnergy put together a report examining landfills and their statistics. 1 Here are a few sobering facts that had me thinking, "Wow, littering should be promoted!" (Actually, don't kill me in the comments; I promise.)


In any case, look.


The daily average amount of trash produced by each American is 4.4 pounds. It would be the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa if packed in cubed feet.


The annual trash production of Americans is 254 million tons.


22 billion plastic bottles


12 feet:


The number of trips around the equator that 300 disposable forks, spoons, and paper or plastic cups could make each year.


There are more than 2,000 active landfills in the nation.


The number of inactive landfills in the nation is in the thousands.


The average amount of trash in Las Vegas landfills is 38.4 tons.


10 tons


United States trash statistics SaveOnEnergy $19: The price per ton Alabama charges to haul away waste from another state.


The out-of-state waste that Ohio transports annually for $35 per ton is 3.4 million tons.


The percentage of trash from outside Ohio that came from New York was 32%.


Americans now recycle annually is 34.3 percent


39 million:Garbage Transport


The report, Land of Waste: American Landfills and Waste Production, also includes some fascinating graphics and interactives, such as a map that allows you to view all the information for landfills close to your home and, my personal favorite, a time-lapse that charts the development of landfills in the nation over the past century.

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