EPA's Report on Municipal Waste

The following information was compiled from the EPA's Facts and Figures on Municipal Waste from 2005 (the most recent report available).

Plastic Waste Not Being Recycled
  • Of all waste products, plastics were the least likely to be recycled in 2005
  • Only 5.7% of all plastic waste was recycled in 2005
  • Americans produced 28.9 million tons of plastic waste in 2005
More Garbage Per Person
Americans are producing significantly more trash each day than they did in the 1960's.
  • In 2005, each person produced an average of 4.54 pounds of trash each day
  • In 1960, each person produced an average of 2.68 pounds of trash each day
However, Americans now recycle a lot more. As a result of individual recycling efforts and composting and combusting programs, we actually sent less trash per person per day to landfills.
  • In 2005, approximately 2.46 pounds of trash per person per day went to landfills
  • In 1960, approximately 2.51 pounds of trash per person per day went to landfills
With these statistics in mind, the questions become:
  • Do we produce more trash each day because we know that some of it will be recycled?
  • Does that make it okay? Especially when you factor in population growth?
  • What additional factors are causing us to produce so much more trash per person now than we did in the 1960's?
  • What can we do to get back to 1960's levels of waste production?
Additional Information from the Report

The Bad News
  • Americans produced a total of 254.7 million tons of garbage in 2005 (of the amount generate, 58.4 million tons were recycled; 20.6 million tons were composted; and 33.4 million tons were burned with energy recovered).
  • 133.3 million tons of that garbage ended up in landfills
The Good News
  • Americans produced less garbage in 2005 than in 2004, and sent 2.2 million tons less garbage to landfills.


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