Let’s face it: humans make big messes. The average American produces 4.4 pounds of garbage per day according to the EPA. Which really doesn’t sound like a lot. But the US population is
Gross but intriguing, let’s take a closer look at the world’s top 10 biggest garbage dumps.
10. Newton County Landfill
This massive landfill in Indiana covers over 400 acres. It serves a 300-mile swath of residences and businesses. It is estimated to that it will continue to accept waste for another 20 years and is able to continue expansion beyond that. Efforts are being made here to modernize waste disposal and bring it into the 21st century. Modern Landfills exude little waste and hardly smell at all.
9. Puente Hills
Located in California, Puente Hills covers around 700 acres and towers almost 500 feet into the air. This colossal structure served the greater Los Angeles area until its closing in October 2013. This is one of a few contenders for largest landfill in the United States. Today, methane gas created by the mountain of garbage is harvested to generate electricity in LA and surrounding areas. The mass of garbage is great enough to generate 30,000 cubic feet of gas per minute. This is another great example of modernizing garbage disposal. Visitors can take a guided tour of the dump.
8. Apex Landfill
Another one of the United States’ biggest garbage dumps is the Apex Landfill in Las Vegas. This mammoth garbage dump is an estimated 2,200 acres across located just outside city limits of North Las Vegas. It currently holds around 50 million tons but is predicted to have somewhere in the ballpark of a billion tons of waste before it is closed. The dump brings in about 9,000 tons of garbage per day.
7. Fresh Kills
Staten Island in New York is home to the Fresh Kills Landfill. While the name sounds terrifying, it is actually derived from the old Dutch word for stream, brook or channel. Fresh Kills is undergoing a major change as its methane is continually collected and converted to energy. Once the gas is extracted, the land is being converted to a thriving new park for New Yorkers to enjoy. At its peak, Fresh Kills Landfill was the world’s largest manmade structure. It holds 150 million tons and stopped receiving trash in 2001 after the World Trade Center bombing. Fresh Kills was one dump site for waste from the Trade Center towers. In addition to becoming a park, Fresh Kills is undergoing a brand change. As the park is being developed, the name is being changed to Freshkills. Apparently Fresh Kills park is too ghastly a name.
6. Olusosun Landfill
This Landfill is the largest in Africa, receiving up to 10,000 tons of garbage per day. A substantial portion of this is electronic waste from container ships. Toxic fumes are released from the site and chemicals are absorbed into the ground. Around a thousand homes exist near the site. Residents here eke out a living by scavenging scrap from the dump.
5. Sudokwon Landfill
South Korea’s Sudokwon landfill is one of the biggest garbage dumps in the world. The site accepts up to 20,000 tons of garbage per day. Like many big dumps, methane gas is collected to produce electricity for nearby Incheon, South Korea.
4. Jardim Gramacho
Featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land, the massive Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janiero is picked over by around 3,000 scavengers daily. They collect hundreds of tons of recyclable waste each day.
3. Bordo Poniente
This landfill in Mexico is even larger than the Sudokwon Landfill in South Korea. Before its closing, Bordo Poniente took in about 12,000 tons of garbage every day from neighboring Mexico City. Since its closing, however, tons of solid waste still arrive every day and the city government seems to have no plans in place to relocate the dump.
2. Guiyu Waste Dump
This waste dump in southern China, in addition to being one of the world’s biggest garbage dumps, is also one of the most dangerous. It is sometimes called an electronics graveyard; it is the principal dumping site for the local electronics industry. Guiyu employs over 150,000 workers to disassemble old electronics to scavenge usable or sellable parts from them. The rest of the garbage goes into the dump, where toxic chemicals are leached into the soil and water. A majority of children living near the dump were found to have blood lead levels above what is considered safe by experts.
1. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Predictably, the Pacific Garbage Patch comes in first place on this countdown. For those who don’t know, the garbage patch here is a floating collection of trash – mostly plastic – which has made its way into the Pacific Ocean and becomes trapped in circular currents. The patch – the size of Texas – is visible from outer space.