Las Vegas' Landfill Problem

Monday, August 9th, 2021 by Brad Himenes

Most people in their daily lives don't think about what happens to their trash once it gets put in their trash bin or removed from their home. Usually someone comes in a truck at 5 AM and makes it go away so we aren't left to stare at it all week long. However the journey of our garbage does not stop there. Here in Las Vegas and Henderson our waste is taken to the Apex Landfill, sometimes via one of several transfer stations throughout town, the same place it has been going since the landfill opened in 1993.

You might say to yourself, "Las Vegas and Henderson aren't very large and there's not as many people living here as there are in bigger cities like LA and New York, it can't be that bad, right?". Unfortunately this is not true, despite our relatively low population when compared to other major cities, our landfill is MASSIVE. At over 2200 acres and peak processing of 15,000 tons of garbage per day we have the largest landfill in the entire world. If you don't believe me you can check the Guinness Book of World Records where we won the award last year (hooray...). To put that into perspective the Apex Landfill is roughly just over 3.4 square miles or about the same area as 1663 football fields. If you're curious you can drive around 10 miles up highway 15 past Nellis and take a look out your passenger side window. That big mountain on the right? That's the dump.

This may not seem like a huge issue, after all it's 2200 acres in the middle of unoccupied desert. The real problems with landfills comes from the pollution that they cause through soil and groundwater corruption and methane gas production. Being a newer landfill Apex was built with these concerns in mind. They have installed liners to prevent runoff in the ground water and a series of wells and turbines to collect the methane gas produced by the rotting garbage and turn it into "renewable" energy by burning it. However, liners aren't perfect and can still have leaks and tears over time and the burning of methane gas still creates carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas. These are less than perfect solutions, but still better than doing nothing. 

Unfortunately there is no easy solution to our landfill problem. That is why we believe our mission to be as eco-friendly as possible is so important. When most of our competition is taking the items that they pick up directly to the dump or transfer station to save time and money, we take the extra steps to sort items we receive to try and keep items out of our ever growing landfill. We donate any and all items we can, keeping things like furniture, TV's, books and electronics out of the landfill entirely and then attempt to recycle anything that we cannot donate. Not only does this give items a new life, it helps slow the growth of the Apex Landfill and helps keep our town greener!

If you are wondering what you can do as an individual, the most important thing is to be conscious of what you are throwing out. If it has the recycling symbol on it, either put it in your recycle bin or contact your nearest recycling center about how to best dispose of it. This will have a major impact on helping slow the growth of the landfill as time goes on. Taking care of our community and environment is something we should all strive for and if we all take the extra steps to dispose of items properly instead of tossing everything in the trash our town can remain beautiful for years to come!

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The Junkluggers of Southwest Las Vegas
2700 E Patrick Ln #18
Las Vegas, NV 89120