What happens when we run out of room for our garbage?

The United States produces more than 30 percent of the planet’s total waste, yet contains only four percent of Earth’s population. In 2014, more than 258 million tons of trash was discarded from American homes, businesses and other institutions. Approximately 65% of that ended up in landfills or was burned in incinerators. The remaining 35% was composted or recycled.

An astounding 30 percent of our garbage is made up of packing, which is obviously of little use to consumers after a product is purchased. Continuing at our current rate, one estimate predicts we will run out of space in landfills for trash within the next 18 years. Then what? The liner thinking of “make-use-dispose” needs to change, not just on the manufacturing side, but on the consumer side, as well. Manufacturers need to develop products that are made from recycled materials. Consumers need to support businesses that adopt this kind of “circular” thinking.

They payoff for a “reuse, reduce, recycle” mentality is cleaner air, better water and a reduce reliance on landfills. This can be easily done by understanding what your local municipality allows and does not allow when it comes to recycling, then doing your part to push the trend away from materials going to landfills. This includes electronic waste such as computers and television sets. As easy as it is to just dump these materials on the curb, many of the components can be removed and reused by dedicated facilities. It just takes a little extra effort.

Bay Disposal & Recycling continuously works with the communities we serve to adhere to the highest standards in recycling and environmental protection. We provide outreach and education at local schools to help young people learn the importance of recycling and making it a part of their everyday routines. We also work with local contractors and builder associations to promote greater recycling efforts at construction sites.

Until better methods of eliminating trash are developed and implemented, it’s up to everyone—individuals, businesses, governments and manufacturers—to do what we can now to ensure we don’t bury ourselves in a situation that would be impossible to reverse, or worse, run out of natural resources. We only have one planet. Let’s keep it protected.