How FIVE BILLION Pounds of Las Vegas Garbage Powers a City | Overview



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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.

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Hosted by Joe Hanson from It’s Okay to be Smart, Overview uses incredible 4k drone footage to reveal the natural phenomena shaping our planet from a 10,000-foot view—literally.

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26 comments

  1. And this is why as a country boy in the USA we burn our trash ever week, Then we mix the ash with water and filter the large bits out and mix this ash mix with cow manure to make Barnyard Tea. It's the best fertilizer you can get.

  2. when I lived in Vegas in the 90's I had a couch to toss, they sent me up to this landfill which at the time was a hole in the ground surrounded by small mountains. it was about 1000' across and easily 200' deep. I was amazed by it. if this is the same place (surrounding area looks similar) they will be capping it soon and moving into the mining area. I thought it would take forever to fill it

  3. I wish every city gave away garbage time capsule to visitors leaving the airport.
    Waste alcoholic beverage clear bottles filled with non organic trash ranging from cardboard, paper, plastic, electronic components and metal pieces, sealed with the city name and year.
    This could be a decorative time capsule for visitors.
    So the next time you say 'leisure or visiting' at the 'visa check' in an airport, you will be rewarded with a 'trash time capsule', when you leave.
    It won't make a huge impact but it will give visitors a little garbage back to own for long time and trade in years to come.

  4. Las Vegas homes have two bins, garbage and recyclables. Several times a month you can put out large items such as furniture, refrigerators, old electronics, etc. and they get picked up. And Apex is where deceased pets, not buried in pet cemeteries, are taken for cremation and a decent burial away from the garbage. Plus all streets are swept once a week, usually the day after garbage pickup. Ours is Tuesday pickup, Wednesday the sweeper comes by.

  5. Even if some of it is being recycled, it still is quite depressing to see the amount of garbage we humans produce and much of it due to our own ignorant habits. I personally am trying to buy less and less especially clothing and plastic stuff. I hope new technologies help in this regard.

  6. Honestly after watching this I'm more depressed than ever about the state of our society. We're so wasteful, holy crap! These may be innovative solutions but they're bandaids on the real problem which is what you should be addressing and not just skipping over as quickly as possible : us! We're the problem here, we're the ones making the mountain of garbage.

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