Where Does Trash in a Dumpster Go?

When it comes to waste disposal, most people think of it as out of sight, out of mind. But whether things are being thrown out for disposal or are being recycled, all the waste collected from a residential or business property goes someplace. Various steps maybe needed to reduce trash and dispose of it in the most sanitary way possible.

When the trash is collected by a community garbage truck or a dumpster rental company, it may be transported to one of these four locations: landfills, recycling facilities, composting centers, or waste-to-energy plants.

First, it is essential to understand what happens after the trash in the dumpster is picked up to identify what waste goes where. This article will walk you through the waste’s journey from our dumpster to its designated destination.

Where Does Waste Go First?

Waste doesn’t always go directly to a landfill; it may go to one of two places initially:

Local Transfer Stations

These are industrial facilities where solid waste is staged for compacting before being transported to its final destination, which might be a landfill or a waste-to-energy plant.

Material Recovery Facilities (MRF)

Also known as MRF, a material recovery facility is where waste goes when it has to be sorted. It plays a vital part in lowering the quantity of garbage transferred to disposal sites. MRFs are specialized plants that accept, sort, and process dry recyclables.

There are two kinds of MRFs:

  • Clean MRFs: Accept recyclable materials that households and businesses have already sorted.
  • Dirty MRFs: Separate unsorted recyclables mixed with regular trash.

After passing through an MRF, the waste may be delivered to its endpoint.

What Are the Final Destinations of Waste?

After spending some time at the transfer station or MRF, waste is transported to be stored, recycled, or utilized to generate energy. Here are the final destinations for trash collected from residential properties or commercial establishments:


Waste that cannot be recycled, composted, or converted into energy goes straight to landfills. They are carefully built sites where trash is stored to prevent hazardous waste from seeping through the soil and contaminating groundwater.

Landfills require thick layers of clay or plastic to separate the piled-up waste materials from the ground. Landfill workers add soil layers on top of the garbage almost daily to help it decompose properly. Over time, as the trash rots or deteriorates, liquid waste called leachate is produced, and landfill workers extract it on the surface, where it is treated to avoid environmental risks.

According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, landfills can last 30 to 50 years. Although they are not infinite waste management and disposal solutions, they can still help keep our communities clean and healthy and away from the risks of hazardous waste.

Recycling Centers

Now that the world is getting more eco-friendly, many individuals, garbage collectors, and dumpster rental or waste management and disposal companies observe recycling as a primary method to help reduce carbon footprint and environmental pollution.

A significant chunk of garbage collected from residential and commercial establishments that get sorted from an MRF goes to recycling centers, where recyclable waste materials are classified, compacted, granulated, or turned into new forms or products for various manufacturers to buy.

There are a lot of recyclable items such as plastics, bottles, glass, cardboard, paper goods, and aluminum cans. Textiles, rubbers, and electronics items can also be recycled, but somebody must send them to specialized sorting facilities for proper disposal and handling.

Composting Facilities

Composting is a natural process that converts food scraps, discarded plants, and perished vegetables into decomposed nutrient-rich materials that can enhance the soil for gardening and agricultural applications.

Composting can be done in various ways, from small-scale methods like a home compost container to large-scale methods like those used at composting facilities. Typically, organic contents are placed in plastic bags and dumped in a designated area to form a compost pile. The organic materials are buried in the soil to allow them to decompose naturally.

In a large-scale setting, composting involves shredding leftover foods or discarded plants and vegetables and turning them into fertilizers and energy sources for local use. Composting facilities use anaerobic digesters to transform these materials into fertilizers. These digesters may also be used for local grid energy production at wastewater treatment facilities.

Waste-to-Energy Plants

A recycling facility that converts garbage into energy is called a waste-to-energy plant. Combustion is used in these facilities to burn trash and produce energy, which helps reduce the quantity of waste entering landfills.

Because waste burning produces hazardous CO2 gas, the Environmental Protection Agency requires all waste-to-energy plants to follow strict emission-capture regulations.

In Conclusion

Recycling and composting facilities, landfills, and waste-to-energy plants are where the garbage goes after we put them in a dumpster. These facilities help decrease the waste that may inevitably end up on our streets and in our seas. Though eliminating trash is nearly impossible, we can all do our share to lessen it. Implementing proper waste disposal practices at home and work could be the first step to making a big difference in our environment.

Let Cobblestone Assist You With Your Waste Disposal Needs!

A dumpster rental can make garbage disposal so much easier, and it is an efficient, safe, and cost-effective method of waste removal.

At Cobblestone Container Service, we understand that managing waste can be daunting. Whether you’re a homeowner tackling a renovation project, or a business owner managing a construction site, we know that you want a convenient and reliable solution for waste disposal. That’s where we come in! We serve as your reliable dumpster rental company with proper waste disposal and management expertise.

We offer a wide range of dumpster sizes and types, including roll-off and front-loading dumpsters, so that you can find the perfect fit and perfect price for your project. When you’re ready to say goodbye to your waste, we’ll take it away, leaving you with a clean and clutter-free space.

Call us at 877-853-2922 or request a quote, and our friendly specialist will be happy to assist you.

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