Facts about landfills

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Fact 1. American industries generate and dispose of an estimated 7.6 billion tons of waste annually. The industrial waste includes: organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, iron, steel, plastics, resin, stone, clay, glass, concrete, paper, and food products.

Fact 2.  European countries take the recycling of wastes seriously. In Germany, no garbage goes into landfills where two-thirds goes into recycling and composting. In the Netherlands and Austria, 1 percent goes into recycling with 60 to 70 percent being recycled and composted. In the United States, 68 percent of garbage goes to landfills with 24 percent being recycled and composted.

Fact 3.   Figures from the United Nations’ Environmental Program reveal that global consumption of plastic has skyrocketed from 5 million tons in the 1950s to 110 million tons in 2009.

Fact 4.  Americans discard 33.6 million tons of plastic annually. About 6.5% is recycled, and 7.7%  is combusted to generate heat and electricity.

Fact 5.  The rest of the disposable garbage ends up in landfills. The duration of decomposition is an estimated 1,000 years during which time the leakage of poisonous pollutants into the soil and water cannot be avoided. Likewise, there is an estimated 100 million tons of plastic debris polluting the waterways of the Earth impacting the health of marine life.

Fact 6.  Plastic is seldom recycled as the various grades of plastics, based on chemical composition, could cause contamination when mixed. Cost has been another factor in the separation of plastics from non-plastics resulting in plastic goods going straight into the landfills.

Fact 7. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 4.5 pounds of waste is dumped by each person into landfills every day.

Fact 8.  Organic decomposition of matter in landfills produces various types of gases. Methane gas is said to be 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide in trapping heat from the sun. Toxic gas, such as ammonia from household products, can combine with gases emitted from other household products resulting in toxic gases impairing the health of the environment.

 Fact 9. Dust and non-chemical contaminants are also contributing factors towards the erosion of air quality.

Fact 10. The welfare of wildlife that comes into contact with dangerous chemicals in landfills could result in more deaths caused by chemical contamination.

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