Study shows USA recycling and disposal rates

A new study reports that Americans recycle 28.5 percent of their waste, or 110.4 million tons, but greater amounts (248.6 million tons or 64 per cent) are sent to landfill. The remaining 7.4 per cent (28.9 million tons) are burned in mostly waste-to-energy plants. The report released appropriately on Earth Day, is conducted by BioCycle, Journal of Composting & Organics Recycling, in conjunction with the Earth Engineering Center of Columbia University and includes help from Waste Business Journal.

The 15th Nationwide Survey – the 2006 “State of Garbage In America,” highlights include:

  • The national recycling rate increased from 26.7 per cent in 2002 to 28.5 percent in 2004.

  • The nation produced 387.9 million tons of garbage in 2004.

  • Americans generate 1.3 tons/person/year of municipal solid waste.

  • States with the highest recycling rates (>40 per cent) include: Oregon: 45.8 per cent; Minnesota: 43.2 per cent; New York: 43.0 per cent; Tennessee: 42.2 per cent; Washington: 40.5 per cent.

  • Regionally, the West leads in recycling - 38 per cent - followed by the Mid-Atlantic (33 per cent), and Great Lakes (31 per cent).

  • Texas leads the nation in remaining landfill space - 1.1 billion tons of capacity. Massachusetts is running out, with 2.3 million tons of capacity left.

  • Thirty-nine states indicated that landfill capacity is being added in their state; nine said it was not.

  • There are close to 3,500 facilities in the U.S. composting leaves, grass clippings, and/or tree trimmings.

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