Would Dumping Trash Into Volcanoes Solve Our Global Waste Problem?

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In 2013, Americans produced about 254 million tons of trash—only 87 million tons of which were recycled or composted. Meanwhile, more than half the world’s population has no access to regular trash collection, resulting in unregulated or illegal dump sites that account for more than 40 percent of the world’s waste.

To combat the escalating global waste crisis, couldn’t we just dispose of the world’s trash in volcanoes? Aren’t they nature’s incinerators? Probably not, according to SciShow host Hank Green in the video below.

Typically, volcano craters are filled with water—kind of like a mini-mountain lake—and sticking around to wait for a lava-spewing eruption would be hazardous, if not downright deadly, for garbage collectors. (Drilling down into the magma chamber isn’t much safer.)

It would also be expensive to send tons of trash to far-flung volcanoes, and we’d likely see an increase in our electric bills, since some regions burn trash in incineration plants and use the heat to make electricity. Plus, videos posted by, well, intrepid YouTubers suggest that when trash hits molten lava, it either explodes or emits dangerous fumes.

Find out all the many other reasons why we should probably rely on recycling, improving access to garbage collections, and finding other pragmatic solutions to waste disposal by watching the video below.