How FIVE BILLION Pounds of Las Vegas Garbage Powers a City
Most of the 600 billion pounds of waste that Americans produce every year ends up in landfills. All that trash can have huge impacts on the environment. But modern landfills have found a new use for all that trash — they’re turning it into energy. In spite of their reputation as “dumps,” these landfills are feats of engineering, more akin to construction sites.
One of North America’s biggest landfills lies on the outskirts of Las Vegas. The Apex Landfill is not only one of the country’s largest, it’s also one of the busiest. Because it serves a non-stop city, the landfill must operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It receives upwards of 16 million pounds of trash per day or 5 billion pounds per year.
Landfills like Apex are required to deal with the toxic chemicals they produce, like methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. At Apex, they capture that methane and turn it into energy that powers 11,000 homes in southern Nevada.