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U.S. municipal solid waste generation 1960-2017

The generation of municipal solid waste in the United States has increased significantly over the past 60 years. In 1960, the country produced approximately 88 million tons of MSW, and by 2017 that figure had more than tripled, amounting to 268 million tons.

What is municipal solid waste?

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is garbage consisting of everyday items such as paper and paperboard, food, metals, glass, wood, and plastics. Of the largest municipal solid waste producers worldwide the United States ranks first, slightly ahead of China. Solid waste generation per capita in the U.S amounts to approximately 4.5 pounds per day, which is almost twice the volume generated per capita in 1960.

Hazardous waste

In 2017, 67.2 million tons of U.S. MSW was recovered for recycling. However, huge quantities of trash end up in landfill sites. This includes electronic products such as TV’s and phones, which is categorized as e-waste. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world, and an increasing environmental problem. E-waste can cause hazardous environmental pollution as certain products contain toxic substances. This can contaminate the surrounding air, soil, and water. As of 2020, there were more than 1,300 hazardous waste sites in the U.S., with many located in New Jersey.

U.S. municipal solid waste generation from 1960 to 2017

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Release date

November 2019


United States

Survey time period

1960 to 2017

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Statistics on "Waste management in the U.S."

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