seagulls at landfill

These guys don't mind living near a landfill.

Melissa Farlow/National Geographic/Getty Images

How Much Trash is Generated?

­Of the 251 million tons (228 million metric tons) of trash, or solid waste, generated in the United States in 2006, about 81.8 million tons (74.2 million metric tons), or 32.5 percent, was either recycled or composted [source: EPA]. Before recycling, trash mostly consists of paper products, yard clippings, plastics and food waste.