Recycling by the Numbers: The Good, Bad and Ugly of Statistics and Comparisons

By the numbers, here is where the United States stands in its recycling effort. Not the best, not the worst.

Just making a quick assessment based on these digits — maybe the U.S. has earned a C (with a curve applied, perhaps).

Good job, Austria. Pick up the pace, Greece. And let’s all keep plugging away. The numbers may be lower than some of us would like, but they register continuing increases. Americans are recycling more than ever before; we’re on an up-swing.

251 million – tons of trash in the United States

82 million – tons of materials recycled in the United States

53.4 – percentage of all paper products recycled in the United States

32.5 – percentage of total waste that is recycled in the United States

100 – approximate percentage of increase in total recycling in the United States during the past decade

60 – approximate amount of total recycling in Austria, the leading recycler in the European Union

10 – percentage of total recycling in Greece

8,660 – number of curbside recycling programs in the United States in 2006

8,875 – number of curbside recycling programs in the United States in 2003

6 – weeks it takes to manufacture, fill, sell, recycle and re-manufacture an aluminum beverage can
95 – percentage of energy saved by recycling an aluminum can, compared with manufacturing a new one
4.6 – pounds of trash per person per day in the United States (most in the world)
1.5 – pounds of recycled materials per person per day in the United States

Related posts:
Reduce, Reuse & Recycle Your Way to Lower Overhead
What Do You Do About the Waste? Recycle and Reuse.
Mini Extreme Recycling: What Are You Doing?
Recycling Soon to Be Mandatory in San Francisco
Sources:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Municipal Solid Waste Generation Statistics and Figures
United States Recycling Statistics (Green Living)
Garbage Statistics and Studies – LaPorte County (Ind.) Solid Waste District
Environment-Green

Written by adamwilliams

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