Recycling Is Now More Popular Than Ever

The United States is considered the number one waste producing country on the planet according to recent figures.  Several reports have estimated that each person in the United States disposes of between 4.4 and 7.1 pounds of waste per day.  Residential waste accounts for 55% of this number and the other 45 % is commercial waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that the United States has 10,000 municipal landfills and 3,000 urban landfills.  Most of these landfills are tightly sealed to prevent the garbage from leaching out and contaminating nearby rivers, lakes, and streams.  The tight sealing of these landfills effectively inhibits the natural degradation of organic waste.  Recycling can help prevent a looming garbage crisis and help keep the landfills from rapidly reaching their full capacity.

Recycling refers to the processing of used materials into new products or items.  Recycling prevents the wasteful disposal of useful materials and reduces the pollution of the air, water and soil.  Some types of recyclable materials include paper, glass, plastic, metal, textiles and building materials.

Because environmental advocates and government planners worry about the threat a full blown garbage crisis would have on the environment more and more programs are being implemented to conserve the use of the landfills and prevent their overflow.  More states and counties have adopted a wide array of recycling and waste recovery programs.

Some states are further along in their recycling efforts than other states.  In Portland Oregon there are recycling bins on every street corner. Some states have implemented recycling processing for unwanted electronic equipment.  Some cities have instituted a program where they will pay a small amount for bottles returned for recycling.  Unfortunately, some other cities have no clear curbside recycling programs or recycle collection centers readily available.

There are some positive recycling facts and figures.  The US Environmental Protection Agency indicates that in 2006 there were an estimated 8,660 curbside recycling programs in operation.  These recycling and composting programs have recovered 34.5% or 87 million tons of material solid waste.  This total number does not include data from hazardous, industrial and construction waste.

The level of composting, or the process of recycling leaves, grass and other organic items rose from 3,470 in 2005 to 5,000 in 2014.

In 2012 approximately 68 percent of all paper products in the country was recycled which amounted to over 40 million tons of recycled paper.  Recycling of container and packaging materials was also increased.

The amount of solid waste ending up in the United States landfills has been decreasing each year since 1990.  The amount of solid waste going to landfills continues to decline each year.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental groups stresss that more needs to be done to fully address the issues of garbage and waste disposal.

It is imperative that we do all we can to preserve out precious natural resources and take care of the environment for future generations.