Pollution and Wastes
How is municipal waste managed?
More than half of the municipal waste generated in the United States is discarded in landfills. The balance is either recovered through recycling programs or combusted with energy recovery.
|Management of Municipal Waste (2008)|
|Method of Disposal||Amount (millions of tons)||Percent of Total|
|Discarded in landfills||135||54|
|Recovered through recycling and composting||83||33|
|Combustion with energy recovery||32||13|
How has disposal of solid waste to landfill facilities changed?
Landfilling has been an essential component of waste management for several decades. In 1960, 94 percent of all garbage was sent to landfills. During the following decades, although the amount of municipal solid waste increased, the amount going to landfills decreased. During the years 1990 to 2008, the total amount of waste going to landfills decreased from 142.3 million tons to 135.1 million tons.
|Year||Percent of Municipal Solid Waste in Landfills|
Much of this decrease was due to an increased amount of waste being recycled. As of 2008, there were 1,812 landfills in the continental United States. Although the number of landfills in the United States has decreased, the average landfill size has increased. At the national level, capacity of existing landfills is sufficient.