Monday, October 8, 2007

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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