Raw Photos Of Landfills Show The Extreme Amount Of Waste Humans Produce

Where does all the trash go after you take it to the dumpster? The reality depicted in the images here showcase the current state of waste management, and how the items we discard are piling up all over the world.

Aerial view of a garbage truck and a field covered in trash

Thousands of diplomats and activists are currently convening in Glasgow to discuss the worsening climate crisis at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Sustainability, pollution, and mitigation will be covered, and with that, this felt like a good time to look at all the things that go to waste.

1,825 pounds of trash per year: That's how much the average American produces, according to statistics by the Environmental Protection Agency, which tracks facts and figures of municipal solid waste. According to the agency’s findings, food and paper top the rankings for types of waste going into landfills.

Another big piece of the trash equation is plastic. Just last year, the US shipped about 1.4 billion pounds of plastic trash overseas. And according to a new report by the Bennington College, Vermont-based project Beyond Plastic, plastic production is quickly becoming a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. “If plastic were a country, it would be the world’s fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter, beating out all but China, the US, India and Russia,” the report states.

America certainly isn't the only culprit when it comes to overconsumption and needing new solutions to waste management, as these photos show the handling of waste in a variety of ways around the globe.

Mattresses are rolled and stacked in a pile in a warehouse in California.
Thousands of tires sit in piles of sand in a remote area of the Middle East
Thousands of tires sit in piles of sand in a remote area of the Middle East
A person is seen walking among garbage with a bag of trash on their shoulder and cows are in the distance grazing
Inside a warehouse trash is seen piled up filling the space
A young boy sits among trash in a landfill
Metal is seen smashed and packed in a refuse site
Person carries a child and walks among trash in the desert in South America
Hundreds of bikes are piled up in a heap in Japan
Broken plates are piled for recycling at a Fiesta Tableware site
A worker opens the back of a truck for trash to empty into a landfill
Close up view of milk cartons and recycled containers in a New York facility.
Landscape in Egypt shows mountains of trash in the distance
Close up view of medical supplies and waste in a landfill in India
Birds fly above a landfill as piles of trash are reflected in water
White mountains seen in the distance as birds fly over trash in the foreground
Dozens of people wait as trash trucks empty waste at a landfill in South America
Two people are seen climbing a mountain of trash in India
Trash spills into water in Lebanon
Metal scraps taken from weapons pile up in a landfill in France
A person climbs a mountain of trash in Mexico looking for items to sell
Trash and recycling is seen inside a warehouse in Australia
A bulldozer works to put out a fire at a landfill in Spain
Aerial view of a landfill in the Maldives with smoke rising from the garbage

Additional reporting by Zahra Hirji.