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Trash Inc.: The Secret Life of Garbage

America's Largest Landfills

America's Largest Landfills
With more than 250 million tons of trash created in the United States each year, the garbage business in America is beyond big. The $52-billion-a-year industry is dominated by companies like Waste Management and Republic Services. Gone are the days of the town dump. Today's landfills are technological marvels and have even become a reliable source for alternative energy as landfill gases are tapped and sold to businesses and municipalities.Here, we've compiled a list of the 10 largest landfills
Photo: David J. Slater | Workbook Stock | Getty Images

With more than 250 million tons of trash created in the United States each year, the garbage business in America is beyond big. The $52-billion-a-year industry is dominated by companies like Waste Management and Republic Services. Gone are the days of the town dump. Today's landfills are technological marvels and have even become a reliable source for alternative energy as landfill gases are tapped and sold to businesses and municipalities.

Here, we've compiled a list of the 10 largest landfills in the United States based on the amount of garbage they receive per day, known in industry nomenclature as TPD or tons per day. Click ahead to see where Americans are sending most of their heaping piles of garbage and how landfill companies are turning it into pure gold.

By Constance Parten
Posted 28, Sept 2010

Roosevelt Regional Landfill
Washington 8,300 51.5 years Republic ServicesLeachate and methane gas are collected throughout the landfill by a system of pipes. The leachate — liquid formed during the decomposition process — is re-circulated through the landfill prompting rapid decomposition of waste and accelerating methane production. Current methane production supports the generation of 10 megawatts of electrical power. The landfill may eventually generate 52 megawatts of electricity; enough power for roughly 30,000 homes
Photo: Courtesy Image

Location: Washington
Tons Per Day: 8,300
Remaining Life: 51.5 years
Operator: Republic Services
Landfill Gas: Leachate and methane gas are collected throughout the landfill by a system of pipes. The leachate — liquid formed during the decomposition process — is re-circulated through the landfill prompting rapid decomposition of waste and accelerating methane production. Current methane production supports the generation of 10 megawatts of electrical power. The landfill may eventually generate 52 megawatts of electricity; enough power for roughly 30,000 homes.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Waste Management

Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site
Colorado 6,000-8,000 More than 20 years Waste ManagementRenewable energy projects at the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site create enough energy to power more than one million homes. The recovery of landfill gas, coupled with the power generated from the conversion of solid waste in our waste-to-energy plants, saves the equivalent of more than 13 million barrels of oil.
Photo: Google Maps

Location: Colorado
Tons Per Day: 6,000-8,000
Remaining Life: More than 20 years
Operator: Waste Management
Landfill Gas: Renewable energy projects at the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site create enough energy to power more than one million homes. The recovery of landfill gas, coupled with the power generated from the conversion of solid waste in our waste-to-energy plants, saves the equivalent of more than 13 million barrels of oil.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Waste Management

Columbia Ridge Landfill
Oregon 6,000-8,000 More than 20 years Waste ManagementSeattle residents recycle about half of their waste. The rest, about 400,000 tons a year, gets put on trains and shipped to Columbia Ridge, where it decomposes into methane gas. That gas is then burned to generate electricity. Seattle City Light is buying the entire output — enough to power more than 5,600 homes.

Location: Oregon
Tons Per Day: 6,000-8,000
Remaining Life: More than 20 years
Operator: Waste Management
Landfill Gas: Seattle residents recycle about half of their waste. The rest, about 400,000 tons a year, gets put on trains and shipped to Columbia Ridge, where it decomposes into methane gas. That gas is then burned to generate electricity. Seattle City Light is buying the entire output — enough to power more than 5,600 homes.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Waste Management

Pine Tree Acres
Michigan 6,000-8,000 More than 20 years Waste Management Pine Tree Acres Landfill has a methane recovery and power generation facility on site and actively collects landfill gas from 184 wells, pulling 5,000 cubic feet per minute. Gas is then routed to a landfill gas-to-energy project that provides electricity to more than 6,500 homes.
Photo: Google Maps

Location: Michigan
Tons Per Day: 6,000-8,000
Remaining Life: More than 20 years
Operator: Waste Management
Landfill Gas: Pine Tree Acres Landfill has a methane recovery and power generation facility on site and actively collects landfill gas from 184 wells, pulling 5,000 cubic feet per minute. Gas is then routed to a landfill gas-to-energy project that provides electricity to more than 6,500 homes.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Waste Management

Atlantic Waste Disposal
Virginia 6,000-8,000 More than 20 years Waste ManagementAt 23 miles long, the pipeline that connects Atlantic Waste Disposal to Honeywell International's plant in Hopewell, Va., is the longest landfill gas pipeline in the country.
Photo: Google Maps

Location: Virginia
Tons Per Day: 6,000-8,000
Remaining Life:
More than 20 years
Operator:
Waste Management
Landfill Gas:
At 23 miles long, the pipeline that connects Atlantic Waste Disposal to Honeywell International's plant in Hopewell, Va., is the longest landfill gas pipeline in the country.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, RichmondCatalyst.com

El Sobrante Landfill and Recycling Center
California 6,000-8,000 More than 20 years Waste ManagementSince April 2004, the El Sobrante Landfill and Recycling Center has operated three landfill gas-to-energy generators that transform methane gas into electricity and power 3,800 homes each day.
Photo: Courtesy Image

Location: California
Tons Per Day: 6,000-8,000
Remaining Life: More than 20 years
Operator: Waste Management
Landfill Gas: Since April 2004, the El Sobrante Landfill and Recycling Center has operated three landfill gas-to-energy generators that transform methane gas into electricity and power 3,800 homes each day.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Waste Management

McCarty Road Landfill
Texas 7,200 37.9 years Republic Services Gas from Houston's McCarty Road landfill is carried through a six-mile pipeline to the Anheuser-Busch brewery to help generate steam energy for the brewery’s power plant. More than 55 percent of the brewery’s fuel demand is supplied by this new alternative fuel source.
Photo: Google Maps

Location: Texas
Tons Per Day: 7,200
Remaining Life: 37.9 years
Operator: Republic Services
Landfill Gas: Gas from Houston's McCarty Road landfill is carried through a six-mile pipeline to the Anheuser-Busch brewery to help generate steam energy for the brewery’s power plant. More than 55 percent of the brewery’s fuel demand is supplied by this new alternative fuel source.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Republic Services

Sunshine Canyon Landfill
California 8,400 35.2 yearsRepublic ServicesDuring the second quarter of 2010, 52 additional landfill gas extraction wells, including replacement wells and 12 new landfill gas wells, were installed at Sunshine to augment the site's gas control system.
Photo: Google Maps

Location: California
Tons Per Day: 8,400
Remaining Life: 35.2 years
Operator: Republic Services
Landfill Gas:During the second quarter of 2010, 52 additional landfill gas extraction wells, including replacement wells and 12 new landfill gas wells, were installed at Sunshine to augment the site's gas control system.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Republic Services

Newton County Landfill & Apex Waste Center
These two mega-landfills, both operated by Republic Services, share the title of country's largest landfill, with the most tons per day flip-flopping between the two virtually every month. Together, they haul in nearly 20 tons of garbage per day.Newton County Landfill (Left) Indiana 9,100 250-plus years Republic Services Newton County produces 1,000 standard cubic feet per minute of landfill gas.Republic has been providing biogas from its landfill to Urban Forest Recyclers for use as an alternat
Photos: Courtesy Images

These two mega-landfills, both operated by Republic Services, share the title of country's largest landfill, with the most tons per day flip-flopping between the two virtually every month. Together, they haul in nearly 20 tons of garbage per day.

Newton County Landfill (Left)
Location: Indiana
Tons Per Day: 9,100
Remaining Life: 250-plus years
Operator: Republic Services
Landfill Gas: Newton County produces 1,000 standard cubic feet per minute of landfill gas.
Republic has been providing biogas from its landfill to Urban Forest Recyclers for use as an alternative fuel source to manufacture wholesale egg cartons. Once the gas is compressed at the landfill, it is carried through an 1,800-foot pipeline to the facility.

Apex Regional Waste Management Center (Right)
Location: Nevada
Tons Per Day: 9,200
Remaining Life: 31.8 years
Operator: Republic Services
Landfill Gas: Apex Landfill's Renewable Energy Generating Facility is expected to be operating by late 2011.  CC Landfill Energy will use gas extracted from a series of wells at the landfill and use that gas in a state-of-the-art turbine-generator to make renewable electricity for NV Energy customers.

Source: Wunderlich Securities, Republic Services

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