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If the U.S. stopped recycling and buried all of its trash for the next 100 years in a single landfill that was 30 feet high, how much of the nation's land area would this cover?

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At the current U.S. population growth rate and the current per-person trash production rate, this landfill would cover 0.05% of the nation's land area. More realistically, the actual area in use will be an order of magnitude smaller, because (1) 46% of all trash in the U.S. is recycled, burned for energy, or composted; (2) landfills can be more than 200 feet high; and (3) landfills are typically covered after 30-50 years and are used for purposes such as parks, golf courses, and ski slopes.

DocumentationTrash & LandfillsCalculations




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