Progess Report on Recycling



According to the Environmental Protection Agency:
In 2007, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced more than 254 million tons of MSW, which is approximately 4.6 pounds of waste per person per day.

Currently, in the United States, 33.4 percent is recovered and recycled or composted, 12.6 percent is burned at combustion facilities, and the remaining 54 percent is disposed of in landfills.

Recycling, including composting, diverted 85 million tons of material away from disposal in 2007, up from 15 million tons in 1980, when the recycle rate was just 10% and 90% of MSW was being combusted with energy recovery or disposed of by landfilling.

Typical materials that are recycled include batteries, recycled at a rate of 99%, paper and paperboard at 55%, and yard trimmings at 64%.
So the good news is that the recycling rate increased from 10% to 33% from 1980 to 2007, up from 28% in 2005.

The bad news is that more than half of the solid waste the United States produces still ends up in landfills. And we're consuming, ie producing more waste, than ever before. Even with more of us recycling, the amount of garbage we create continues to grow: in 1980 we put 135 tons of waste into landfills; in 2007, we put 169 tons of waste into landfills.

We can do better. We must do better.

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