Americans generate more than 250 million tons of garbage annually. Most of that ends up in a landfill unless we are willing to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Garbage is a byproduct of just about any activity. It is produced during manufacturing processes, metabolic function and human activity. Throughout life, we generate waste. In the United States, the average person generates 4.4 pounds of trash per day. The average number of pounds generated per person in Tennessee is 4.85 pounds per day, which is above the U.S. average. As our population grows to more than 7.5 billion people on Earth, disposal becomes more difficult and more expensive.
Trash is defined as waste collected for disposal including packaging from goods, food scraps, beverages bottles and cans (both aluminum and plastic), steel and tin food containers, plastic wrapping, paper, newspapers, junk mail, phone books, electronics, broken toys and any other item that is collected to go into the trash to be discarded. A family of four will generate a staggering 20 pounds of garbage per day. At the end of the week, this will add up to an overflowing trash can — or multiple cans — which are then hauled to the street for city pickup or carried to a convenience center for a short stop on the way to the landfill.
Putnam County spends approximately $4.5 million per year to manage solid waste generated by city and county residents. The cities have costs associated with curbside pickup. The county operates nine convenience centers for residents to dispose of solid waste that is not covered by curbside services. All waste collected in the county is taken to the transfer station on 1846 S. Jefferson Ave. for consolidation to haul to the Rhea County Landfill. More than 60,000 tons of waste are taken to Rhea County Landfill each year.
Residents can help reduce the dollars our county spends on managing solid waste by reducing the amount of waste generated in each household and through recycling and composting. Tonnages of solid waste taken to the Rhea County Landfill could be reduced as much as 75 percent if all residents would dispose of their waste properly.