Some communities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, can recycle more than they send to landfills, but the bulk of the United States sends its rubbish to the landfill. In addition to landfills, garbage in the United States is sent to recycling facilities, composters, and waste-to-energy plants.
People in many countries dispose of their household waste by incineration or boiling in big kettles called "cordons de l'eau" (waste baskets) in France or "lumpies" in South Africa. Incineration produces carbon dioxide and ash. The amount of energy in lumpy waste is very low compared to that in fossil fuels, so this method is not used for heating homes.
In Canada, most municipal solid waste is disposed of at landfill sites, with some being recycled where possible. A small proportion is exported for disposal in foreign countries.
In Japan, people usually burn their household trash in fireplaces or underfloor heaters. This process gives off carbon dioxide but also contains polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs), which are toxic substances formed when materials containing chlorine come into contact with heat.
Sweden has one of the world's highest rates of recycling, mainly due to taxes on disposable products. Disposable items make up approximately 70% of all municipal solid waste in Sweden.
By far the most popular destination for solid waste is the landfill. Landfills are generally located near population centers because that's where the trucks going to and from the landfill will be able to distribute their contents efficiently.
A large percentage of the material in a landfill comes from construction sites. As people build their homes with durable materials such as steel and wood, they cannot be recycled. They end up in landfills or incinerators.
The next largest source of waste is municipal dumps. These are public facilities that accept household and industrial solid waste for disposal. The majority of municipal dumps are operated by counties or other local governments, but some large dumps operate on a contract basis with local authorities or private companies.
County and city dumps generally receive shipments several times per week, while smaller dumps may only be open several days per month. All garbage at a dump must be put in containers with the label "Dumpster Rentals." These labels can usually be found around the dump or on advertisements in local papers.
The final destination of rubbish varies greatly between areas, states, and even localities. Landfills are regulated by the government to ensure that they are closed down after 40 years. After this time the contents of the landfill will have stabilized and become inert, making them safe to be dumped in again.
A smaller number of landfills has been or are being constructed with mechanical systems that extract energy from trash flow to generate electricity. These "trash-to-energy" facilities avoid emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and can reduce your town's garbage disposal costs. However, these facilities require substantial up front costs that may not be recouped through reduced landfill fees; and they still produce methane, which is another form of carbon dioxide if it escapes into the atmosphere.
Recycling is becoming increasingly common as people learn about its benefits for the environment and their community. Most municipalities provide some type of curbside recycling service, and many others offer drop-off locations for recycling. In addition, some larger cities have organized community recycling programs that allow residents to recycle their household materials at no charge.
Most communities also have clean-up days where they collect all types of waste in one location for pickup by a contractor.
However, the bulk of items thrown by households and companies in the United States (65.4 percent) are now deposited in landfills or burnt in incinerators. Only approximately half of that quantity, 34.6 percent, is composted and recycled in the United States. That's about 7 million tons of waste being put into landfill sites or burned each year.
The average American consumer generates 9 pounds of garbage per day. By comparison, the global average is 29 pounds per day for every person. The United States is a large producer of greenhouse gases (GHG), which cause climate change; therefore, it has a large impact on the environment. When Americans recycle, they're helping to reduce the amount of material ending up in our landfills and preventing additional carbon dioxide emissions. Recycling also provides an opportunity for consumers to give used goods another life while helping families save money.
When products are discarded their components become waste. Waste can be divided up into three main categories: recyclable materials, sanitary wastes, and toxic wastes. Of this waste, only 5-10% is currently recycled, while 80-90% ends up in landfill sites or is burned. This shows that we need to do more to recycle our waste.
Recycling saves energy, water, and other resources because it uses the original ingredients of discarded products instead of making new ones.