Where Exactly Does All Our Trash Go?

And a big portion of it unfortunately ends up in our oceans.

Did you know that we generate an estimated 2.2 billion tons of trash every year? This begs the question: where does all our trash go? Trash, when properly handled, usually ends up in one of four locations: garbage dumps, landfills, recycling centers, and waste-to-energy sites. It can also end up as art in some rare cases.

Unfortunately, not all waste ends up in these places. Waste management remains a pressing concern around the world because mishandling waste, whether it’s illegal dumping or littering, often ends up with garbage in places like our oceans.

Trash accumulates in five main zones in the ocean, the largest of which is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This garbage-filled area spans an estimated area of 617,763 sq mi (1.6 million sq km) or about twice the size of Texas.

Advertisement

This area is difficult to clear up as most of the plastics that reside in it have broken down into microplastics and become hard to remove. There are however initiatives set up to tackle exactly this kind of problem.

What are each of the four locations where garbage ends up? What are their advantages and disadvantages? How do we tackle ocean trash? We answer all these questions and more in our video.

Follow Us on

Stay on top of the latest engineering news

Just enter your email and we’ll take care of the rest:

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.