American Landfill Use Exceeds EPA Estimates By 115 Percent

In the ongoing struggle to keep Earth clean and safe for the future, there have been countless efforts and movements to help people go green. That struggle is bound to go on for a good while, but there’s no doubt been some progress on that front. Unfortunately, it’s also just as possible for there to be some setbacks — and signals that the situation is worse than expected.

The problem starts with landfills. Giant fields of garbage are a bad enough sign as-is, and not just because they’re an eyesore or smell bad; they can release methane gases that contribute heavily to excess greenhouse gases. On top of that, recent studies for Nature Climate Change have shown that the amount of waste that the US has disposed of is much higher than what the EPA projected; in 2012 alone, 262 million tons of it was sent to landfills — which is 115 percent more than expected. The numbers gained from the study and resultant research came from actual and more accurate measurements of the waste, rather than the systems and models the EPA used.

It’s a large discrepancy with nasty implications, but there is hope. Landfills that no longer received waste proved more capable of controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and even now it’s entirely possible for better collection of those gases as technology improves. On the other hand, the assumption is that if the EPA’s projections for the US were so low, other countries aren’t in better shape — so spreading awareness is an absolute must.

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