Where Does Your Trash Go?

You produce trash every day, place them on the curbside and wait for the garbage man to come and pick them up. But have you ever imagined where your residential trash goes after pickup? The debris you produce every day contributes to the millions of municipal solid waste generated each year in the country. And to ensure that these solid wastes are manageable and not end up as harmful waste to the environment, your residential solid waste can go through several channels before its final destination. The municipal landfill is one of the first things that come to your mind as the trash destination, but there are different waste streams.

Below are some of the waste streams your residential waste is likely to go for more sustainable waste management.

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Transfer stations

When we pick up your residential waste, whether it is waste in the roll-off dumpster or curbside bins, the first stopover is the trash transfer station. The transfer station is the temporary site where the sorting and compacting of trash takes place. The transfer facility’s operations include weighing and unloading the trash trucks, sorting the garbage, and separate hazardous waste from recyclables. Once the sorting is done, the trash is compacted and loaded into bigger trucks ready for the next destination. The transfer stations help reduce road traffic by transferring waste cargo into bigger trucks.

Local material recovery centers

Material recovery facility is another place your residential trash may end up in after pickup. These facilities process recyclables and ensures that these materials are ready for recycling. Clean recyclables will end up in a clean material recovery facility while dirty recyclables end up in the material recovery facility that accepts contaminated recyclables. The latter facility will do the dirty work of salvaging the recyclables before sending them out for recycling. Dirty material recovery facility will use both intense manual and mechanical techniques to recover recyclables.

The first two steps above determine the next station for your junk.

Recycling centers

Any recyclable trash material ends up in recycling centers. The recycling centers create a green solution to disposing of waste materials like plastics, metals, glass, paper, and paperboards. These centers also compost yard trimmings and food waste. Recycling creates new products and quality compost for reuse.

Waste to energy centers.

Another place your trash is likely to go is the waste-to-energy center. These plants, like incinerators, turn the municipal solid waste into energy through combustion. According to statistics, 12.7% of the garbage produced in 2017 was turned into energy. And these numbers have been going up every year. At the incineration facility, the waste material passes through the highest heat to generate steam and electricity.

An alternative to the incinerator is the anaerobic digester. This waste to energy plant uses a biological process to generate energy from your residential organic waste.

The organism in these digesters feeds on the organic matter to release energy and organic fertilizers.

Disposing of trash using the waste-to-energy process reduces the garbage in the landfills by 87%, according to the US Energy Information Administration.


The residential trash that doesn’t fit in any of the above disposal options ends up in the landfill. There are over 3,050 landfills across the country where your waste is left to decompose at a slow rate. The garbage is dumped in layers alternating clay and plastic to create layers that store the waste in one place for gradual decomposition. A landfill may fill up fast if there are no alternative trash disposal methods considering the slow decay rate and short life span.

While a big chunk of trash ends up in the municipal landfill, some of your trash may end up in other streams like the recycling centers, incinerators, or composting containers. Just like the multiple waste streams available, Pro Disposal offers residential trash disposal options in your area. Contact us to learn more.


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