Waste and Landfills: A Guide for Environmental Protection

Waste and Landfills: A Data-Driven Guide for Environmental Protection

Waste is a problem on a worldwide scale. Many items that are discarded wind up in landfills, including food that has been left unopened and electrical equipment. Recycling projects are being implemented with great effort all around the world, but if trash isn’t handled with the right care and attention, these efforts can soon go wrong.

The subject stated in the heading, “Waste and Landfills,” is examined in greater detail in this extensive guide. Additionally, this describes where it goes, how organizations can manage garbage, and how recycling and other solutions can help with the issue. Addressing the problem head-on is essential given how garbage production is increasing, since doing so will prevent future negative effects on the ecosystem and the globe.

How Much Do We Really Discard?

Waste and Landfills: An endless sea of trash with the ocean in the distance

For a better understanding of waste and the issue it presents, it is crucial to take a closer look at how much is dumped in landfills. There are many different sorts of garbage; the biggest offenders include the following:

Hazardous substances, unwanted food, plastic, paper, paperboard, textiles, metal, and even wood are examples of items that are thrown away.

In the end, this waste will only have one place to go if it is improperly managed: a landfill. There are a number of reasons why trash is still being produced at an alarming rate, including population expansion, the continuous need for disposable goods, and the short shelf lives of everything from sneakers to cell phones.

The concerning situation is highlighted by the following statistics.

Waste statistics

It’s safe to say that the situation is not favorable regardless of whether you’re focusing on global statistics or just the United States. The data that precede show why waste has become such a big problem.

  • The global garbage production rate is 2.12 billion tonnes per year.
  • 1.3 billion tonnes of that garbage are mainly composed of food. Over three trillion servings each year, or roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption, are wasted.
  • The management of at least 33% of the world’s trash is not eco-friendly. The percentage may potentially be even more horrifying as that is merely a cautious estimate.
  • Around the world, each person produces 0.74 kilograms of waste every day on average. However, depending on the area, the range for this can differ greatly. From 0.11 kilograms to 4.54 kilograms, this increases.
  • Global trash is predicted to increase to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050. The population grew by more than twice as much during the same time period as this growth.
  • According to estimates, 10 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year.
  • America is responsible for 12% of the world’s garbage. This is true even though the nation only makes up 4% of the world’s population.
  • The United States generated 292.4 million tonnes of municipal solid garbage in 2018. That equates to roughly 5 pounds per person.
  • In 2019, the North American waste management market was worth $208 billion. The majority of the market is in the U.S.
  • 35.2 million tonnes of hazardous garbage are managed in the US.
  • According to estimates, the United States generates about 103 million tonnes of food waste annually.
  • The typical American family can waste 180 gallons of water each week, or 9,400 gallons, due to domestic leaks. Over 300 loads of clothes may be washed with that much water. Household leaks can waste about 900 billion gallons of water yearly on a national level.
  • The current recycling and composting rate in America is 32.1%.
  • In America, 25 million plastic bottles are discarded every hour.

Where Do We Dump Our Waste?

Waste and Landfills: A front loader pushing trash in a concrete passageway

Our waste typically winds up in one of two places: a landfill or recycling. Obviously, the latter is the goal, especially in light of the potential environmental advantages and government incentives. Recycling, however, is not always a possibility. Additionally, just because something is a possibility doesn’t ensure that businesses will take the required actions to make it a reality. Waste is disposed of in these circumstances at a landfill.

Here are some statistics to take into account if you run a typical modern firm about the kind of garbage created and where it ends up:

  • The typical office worker uses 500 coffee cups annually. Since they are single-use cups, they are all disposed of in landfills.
  • Twenty businesses produce more than half of the single-use plastic used worldwide. All of this ultimately ends up in landfills.
  • The average office worker produces about two pounds of waste paper and paperboard every day. Additionally, they utilize about 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year.
  • The majority of office waste, or roughly 70%, is made up of mixed paper goods.
  • In 2019, there were more than 50 million metric tonnes of electronic garbage produced worldwide. Over the next ten years, this is anticipated to increase by an additional 20 million metric tonnes.
  • Only 20% of electronic garbage gets recycled globally as of right now.


Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) was landfilled in the United States in 2018 with an estimated amount of 146.1 million tonnes. Even though this is a disappointing result, there has been a slow but consistent improvement in landfill numbers relative to the volume of waste produced. 94% of the garbage produced in 1960 was landfilled. This proportion fell to 50% in 2018 by a large margin.


The recycling process starts by gathering recyclables. A company will need to develop its own system for gathering, processing, and storing appropriate recyclables in order to do this effectively. Along with a baler to compact recyclables for simple storage and transportation, this will also comprise special bins for various materials.

Waste materials are separated by type when they arrive at a recycling facility. Paper will be separated from the plastic, and metals from cardboard, etc., using specialized equipment. Additionally, workers at the center will distinguish between clean and dirty recyclables. If a recyclable is dirty, it will either be cleaned or discarded if it cannot be used.

These leftovers can be utilized after being processed and reduced to raw materials at a recycling facility.

A new method of removing waste

New trash disposal technology is being used in ongoing efforts to enhance and perfect the recycling process. Simply said, many current waste problems will only worsen if waste management doesn’t undergo significant improvements. If no improvements are done, it is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

Technologies for intelligent waste management range from pneumatic waste pipes to waste level monitors. Smart garbage bins, on the other hand, are one of the best technologies a business can implement. Smart garbage containers eliminate human mistakes during the crucial initial sorting step. This facilitates and accelerates the processing of materials, and it can significantly increase worker productivity and lower waste management expenses.

Controlling commercial waste

You may be surprised to learn that 57% of consumers are willing to alter their buying patterns if doing so will lessen their impact on the environment. This means that if your company is able to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and efforts in doing so, it may be able to draw in more clients.

You must understand effective waste management for businesses if you want to make it a reality. Here are some pointers for handling typical waste types.

Regular trash

It’s crucial to sort and properly store things like paper and plastic from ordinary garbage. The first step is to have a safe location to store waste. To segregate and gather the waste, you must also utilize containers with distinct labels.

Waste needs to be stored with special caution, especially if it is in an area where the weather can be problematic. In the absence of covers, trash may be blown away. Rain may potentially damage your stored materials if these covers are not watertight.

Digital waste

E-waste, commonly referred to as electronic garbage, will cause businesses to become more concerned. Fortunately, there are immediate actions that a company can take to reduce their electronic waste. For example, shifting a lot of technology and procedures to the cloud.

There are several actions you can do if you have electronic trash that won’t serve your company’s needs in the future. These materials can be handled by specialized third-party electronics recyclers in an economical and environmentally responsible manner. In order to extend the lives of your devices, you can also trade them in for updates or donate them to a nearby charity.

Harmful waste

As you may anticipate, handling and processing hazardous trash required additional measures. If this hazardous trash were to affect or harm someone else, the consequences for your company may be severe. Chemicals, solvents, batteries, oils, and pesticides are examples of materials that are considered hazardous.

Make sure that all hazardous garbage is segregated from non-hazardous waste before anything else. The garbage will then need to be stored safely. Using appropriate containers, keeping them out of the weather, and keeping them in a safe, secure location are required. You must maintain track of any waste transfers you make after using an approved waste carrier to manage your hazardous material.

Summary of findings

One of the biggest issues the world is currently experiencing is waste. If landfills are chosen over recycling, this issue will only get worse. Landfills are no longer as much of a hassle as they once were, but they’re still not the best option for handling waste.

The United States and the rest of the globe both produce a lot of waste. The numerous data points provided in this guide adequately bear this out. However, there is optimism for the future that waste will no longer be the issue with a more sustainable-driven approach, where materials are recycled and things like single-use plastics are abolished.