Only One State Has More Trash Per Capita Than Pennsylvania

And no, it's not New Jersey. Bet you can't guess how many tons of garbage Pennsylvania holds per resident.

Landfill Trash

Pennsylvania is very, very trashy.

At least that’s according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, which energy company SaveOnEnergy.com used to conduct an analysis of U.S. states with the most landfill trash per capita.

The Keystone State ranked second, losing only to Nevada. There are 35.4 tons of trash for each person in the state, according to the study. That’s a lot of trash.

Pennsylvania also imports more garbage than any other state in the country. Its location makes it a perfect trash-taker — New York and New Jersey are among the biggest trash exporters, the analysis found. So Pennsylvania’s (literally) taking a lot of trash from both states.

Why? Trash trade is a $4 billion industry, according to SaveOnEnergy.com. It helps the economy by creating jobs, and it can also serve as a municipal budget source. Keystone Crossroads reports that $4 million of Throop, Pennsylvania’s $6 million borough budget comes from fees paid by the local landfill. Throop is located just slightly northeast of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

But all that trash comes at a price. Pennsylvania ranked third in the analysis among states that generate the most landfill gas, behind California and Texas. Methane, carbon dioxide emissions and nonmethane organic compounds that result from decomposing trash are tied to global warming and smog.

So, how to cut back on trash? SaveOnEnergy.com offers some tips:

  • Bring reusable bags when you go shopping, and choose reusable containers for packing meals.
  • Buy in bulk whenever possible. Beware of double packing – or individually wrapped items that are repackaged and sold as bulk.
  • Compost your food scraps and yard waste whenever possible.
  • Cut back on junk mail – you receive more than 30 pounds of it per year.

If you’re wondering where the closest landfill is in proximity to you, check out this interactive map from the analysis.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.