Date of Award



Edward Van Buren


In 2010, Americans produced 250 million tons of solid waste. Where does this massive amount of waste go after we throw it out? The majority of the waste is disposed of in landfills where it does not break down, produces poisonous leachate which can contaminate soil and groundwater supplies, and contributes twenty-five percent of America’s methane emissions. The challenges and hazards of solid waste disposal are no more evident than in New York City. New York City residents produce over 50,000 tons of solid waste and recyclables every day. With the closing of the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island in 2001, the disposal of this waste has become economically inefficient, politically problematic, and ethically questionable. In my thesis, I will detail the political aspects of New York City’s solid waste disposal practices; and discuss the history and ethics of the disposal of New York City’s waste.