(WTAJ) — April is widely celebrated as Earth Month, but waste awareness should be all year long. Here’s a look at the amount of trash put into Pennsylvania landfills.
While landfills in Pennsylvania are regulated and inspected, there are roughly 9.6 million tons of municipal (residential) trash put into our Commonwealth’s landfills every year, according to Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association (PWIA).
With a number that large, it can be hard to imagine what so much waste would look like. That number divides into approximately 1,480 pounds a year per person in Pennsylvania, based on 2021 numbers.
What is Pennsylvania throwing away?
According to a study done for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2022, the 10 most common materials in Pennsylvania residential waste are:
- food waste – 17.0%
- non-recyclable paper – 3.4%
- corrugated cardboard – 7.3%
- compostable paper – 7.3%
- composite plastics – 3.0%
- mixed paper – 5.5%
- film plastic – 8.8%
- diapers and sanitary products – 2.9%
- textiles and leather – 4.0%
- unpainted wood – 3.6%
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has compiled a list of all state landfills and the amounts they take in daily. You can view that list by clicking here.
Pennsylvania vs The World
According to Statista, Pennsylvania is the number three state for the most waste per capita in the country based on their 2022 survey. Michigan and Indiana hold spots one and two.
Statista also analyzed data to create a projection of waste that will be produced in the future. By the year 2030, the world is on track to be producing 2.59 billion metric tons of trash. By the year 2050, the world will be creating nearly 3.4 billion metric tons of waste. In comparison, 2.02 million metric tons were produced in 2016.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Three simple ways to help out our great commonwealth (and the planet) and put less in the landfill is to remember those three big ‘R’s — Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Reduce your use of disposable items like paper plates, plastic forks and spoons, and even plastic bags.
Reuse what you can. If you need to head to the grocery store, take some cloth/reusable bags with you. If you get in that habit now, you won’t be stuck if your favorite store does away with plastic bags — which has become a growing trend.
Recycle all you can. From plastics and glass to tin, aluminum and even paper, you can skip the landfill with a lot of these items.
It’s estimated by the PWIA that 94% of Pennsylvanians have some level of access to recycling. In more rural areas, there are more than 870 “drop-off” recycling programs that extend recycling to a large number of communities.
For more ways to help reduce waste coming from your home, Nature.org has eight tips to get you started. Click here for more.