The Ultimate Landfill Quiz

Landfills are the resting place for everything from old newspapers to food scraps to worn-out tennis shoes. In 2006, Americans alone generated more than 250 million tons of waste a day, at least half of which got tossed into landfills. So what happens to your garbage after the trash collector hauls it away?
Start the Quiz
Question 1 of 10
0Correct Answers
1.HowmuchwastedoeseachAmericanthrowout?
  • 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms)
  • 4.6 pounds (2.1 kilograms)
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: According to the EPA, each American throws away 4.6 pounds (2.1 kilograms) of waste per day. That's about 1,643 pounds (745 kilograms) of trash a year.
  • 6.5 pounds (2.9 kilograms)
  • Next
2.ThebulkofwastegeneratedintheUnitedStatesfallsintowhatcategory?
  • paper
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: More than a third of the waste Americans throw away each year is paper. Plastic and food scraps both comprise about 12 percent of the overall waste.
  • food scraps
  • plastic
  • Next
3.In1988,therewereapproximately8,000landfillsintheUnitedStates.Howmanyweretherein2006?
  • 10,754
  • 1,754
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: Surprisingly, the number of landfills has decreased over the years. In 2006, there were 1,754 U.S. landfills. Don't let the decrease fool you though -- today's landfills take up significantly more space than in years past.
  • 6,754
  • Next
4.Toextendthelifeofalandfill,it'snecessarytoincreaseairspace.Whatisonewaytoincreasethespace?
  • combust paper
  • compact waste into cells
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: Heavy equipment compresses a day's worth of trash into areas called cells, which are then covered with soil and recompacted.
  • build trash tiers
  • Next
5.Afteralandfillcloses,howlongmustitbemonitored?
  • 10 years
  • 20 years
  • 30 years
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: Since landfills are designed to bury trash and not to break it down, toxic chemicals can easily leak out and contaminate the surrounding environment. Closed sites must be monitored and maintained for up to 30 years.
  • Next
6.Landfillgas,abyproductoftheanaerobicbreakdownoftrash,containsprimarilywhichtwocompounds?
  • methane and carbon dioxide
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: When bacteria break down trash, the result is a gas that's about 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide.
  • methane and nitrogen
  • carbon dioxide and sulfur
  • Next
7.WhenwasthefirsttruesanitarylandfillbuiltintheUnitedStates?
  • 1927
  • 1937
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: California's Fresno Sanitary Landfill, built in 1937, was the first landfill in the nation to use layering and compaction.
  • 1947
  • Next
8.What'sthedifferencebetweenlandfillsandcompostpiles?
  • landfills are bigger
  • landfills smell better
  • landfills preserve trash in its near original state
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: Compost piles are designed to break down trash and turn it into usable nutrients. Landfills, with their plastic liners and oxygen barriers, actually preserve trash.
  • Next
9.Whatmightbeusedtohelpspeedthebreakdownoflandfilltrashandproducemoremethane?
  • composting agents
  • fertilizers
  • bioreactors
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: New technologies called bioreactors can facilitate the decomposition of trash, thus producing more methane for capture as energy.
  • Next
10.Whichofthefollowingisrequiredbeforealandfillcanbebuilt?
  • referendums
  • environmental impact studies
    Incorrect! Correct Answer: Environmental impact studies determine how much land a landfill would need, the composition of the site's underlying soil and bedrock, the flow of water near the area and the impact a landfill would have on the surrounding environment.
  • fundraisers
  • Next