back to top

13 Alarming Photos Of Landfills You Can't Unsee

Where does trash go?

Posted on

1. Bantar Gebang Landfill, Indonesia

Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Above: Basir, 8, helps his sister, Ning, climb the "mountain" of waste to find usable plastic.

Bantar Gebang, Indonesia's largest landfill, is a 110-hectare (that's about 11,840,301 square feet) mound of trash. Nicknamed "the mountain" by locals, most of the town's 2,000 residents live off of it: Families rummage through the rubbish for items they can sell to independent recycling companies.

2. Ghazipur Landfill, India

Flickr: advocacy_project

Above: Women collecting trash scour the landfill among cattle, picking food and recyclables before sunset.

Known as "trash mountain," New Delhi's disposal site stretches across 70 acres and has been collecting about 9,200 tons of trash a day. Waste has grown 50% since 2007, and it's expected to double — and overflow Ghazipur — by 2024.


3. Port-Au-Prince Landfill, Haiti

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Above: A local man holds up some animal parts he found as he stands amid heaping piles of trash.

The devastating earthquake from 2012 left thousands of displaced and homeless Haitians to scavenge their landfill site for usable items.

4. Waste Site at the Gaza Strip

Warrick Page / Getty Images

Above: a Palestinian boy digs through the mounds to collect plastic to be sold for recycling.

Nonfunctioning collection vehicles, waste site toxins leaking into the ground, and no to little resources for hazardous waste disposal have led multiple landfill sites to overflow.

5. Jardim Gramacho Landfill, Brazil

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Above: Plastic bottles were piled to be recycled before the site's official closure.

Before being shut down in 2012, Jardim Gramacho served as Latin America's largest landfill site, with 9,000 pounds of trash it used to process daily. The rotting garbage accounted for 20% of the area's total carbon dioxide emissions.

6. Shelford Landfill, U.K.

Above: Bulldozers move mountains of trash. The site receives 200 truckloads of waste a day.

The Canterbury landfill ran a high risk of running out of space in 2008 to accommodate its 55.3 million tons of waste. Reports detail a plan to expand the space to expect 15 million tons of waste by 2026.

7. Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Pacific Ocean

Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, the giant "island" of trash floats somewhere between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii. The majority of the waste is a collection of nonbiodegradable materials, like plastic, and marine debris that's been trapped and floating in a high-pressure area in the ocean.


8. Lagos Dump, Nigeria

The landfill in Lagos takes in about 10,000 tons of waste every day. 500 shipping containers also dump e-waste onto the same grounds. People attempt to strip the e-waste of its chemicals for precious metals, but it produces fumes toxic to the environment.

12. Nogales Landfill, Mexico

John Moore / Getty Images

Above: A former undocumented immigrant who was deported from the United States now makes his living by sorting through the dump site.

Thirty families live near — and off of — the landfill near Nogales, Mexico. The locals make their living rummaging through the giant mounds of trash for items to sell and/or recycle.

13. Fresh Kills Landfill of Staten Island, U.S.

Budd Williams/NY Daily News Archive / Via Getty Images

Fresh Kills opened its "services" in 1947 and quickly became one of the largest man-made landfills on earth. The dump site spraws across 2,200 acres (with 200-foot mounds of trash). That's twice the size of Central Park — for a little reference.

Recent citywide initiatives, however, are attempting to convert the trash into usable energy.


Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!