Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage




Garbage. It's everywhere — even in the middle of the oceans — and it's pure gold for companies like Waste Management and Republic Services who dominate this $52 billion-a-year industry. From curbside collection by trucks costing $250,000 each, to per-ton tipping fees at landfills, there's money to be made at every point as more than half of the 250 million tons of trash created in the United States each year reaches its final resting place.
Current landfill gas projects in the United St...Image via WikipediaAt a cost of $1 million per acre to construct, operate and ultimately close in an environmentally feasible method, modern landfills are technological marvels — a far cry from the town dump that still resonates in most people's perceptions. Not only do they make money for their owners, they add millions to the economic wellbeing of the towns that house them. Technologies, such as Landfill Natural Gas and Waste To Energy, are giving garbage a second life, turning trash into power sources and helping to solve mounting problems. It's particularly important in places like Hawaii, where disposal space is an issue, and in China, where land and energy are needed and trash is plentiful.
One sure thing about the garbage business: it's always picking up.


The Landfill Across the world, we’re producing more trash than ever before…nearly a ton per year for every man, woman and child in the U.S. Nearly half of it winds up in landfills and with the arrival of each ton, someone gets paid.
Photo Credit: Jason Hawkes | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Hawaiian Trash When you think of Hawaii, trash probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But trash is bombarding the shore, turning parts of paradise into a wasteland.
Photo Credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service

China The second largest economy in the world is in the midst of crisis. The country has little infrastructure to deal with the garbage generated by 1.3 billion people.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

New York City Sanitation
Tons of Trash In every town and every city, garbage collectors work to rid the country of trash. The largest sanitation department is in New York City where 12-thousand tons of garbage is generated every day.
BMW Manufacturing Co. | Spartanburg, South Carolina
The Power of Trash Today, trash is re-born as an energy source. A $2 billion BMW auto manufacturing plant in South Carolina is powered by trash from a nearby landfill.
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