Ever wonder what actually happens to the plastic waste you throw out?
So did we. That's why my photographer, Natalie, and I decided to scavenge Prince William County, Maryland landfill located in the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
It turns out, Americans generate a ton of waste--literally. According to a study conducted by the University of Southern Indiana, the United States ranks as the top trash-producing country in the world at about 1,600 pounds per person each year. That's a pretty shocking statistic considering that five percent of the world's people generate nearly 40 percent of the wold's waste.
To make matters worse, not only does the U.S. generate the most trash, but most of it isn't recycled. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the recycling rate in 2014 was 34.6 percent.
Natalie and I went to the landfill to talk to the landfill's recycling manager, Scott MacDonald, to discover more about Americans' waste habits. He'll share some insight on how the smallest recycling efforts yield profound results, as well as some bizarre items he's come across while overseeing the recycling division.
Check out other related Circa stories:
The 'Green Riders' biked from NYC to Seattle cleaning up trash and planting fruit trees
A 23-year-old college dropout has big plans to rid the oceans of plastic waste
Mr. Trash Wheel has collected over a million pounds of garbage from the Baltimore Harbor