Recycling in the United States - Statistics & Facts

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling is the process of collecting and processing material that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. One of the primary reasons that recycling is promoted and a desired process in the waste industry is due to its ability to reduce the strain on the environment. Recycling is one of the ways that society can simultaneously contribute to improving the environment, the economy, sustainable manufacturing and preventing waste polluting both terrestrial and marine environments. The benefits of recycling are simple but the effect they can have can be significant, which is why many countries continue support to support this practice and encourage their citizens to recycle their household waste.

On a nationwide level, the EPA oversees a variety of waste issues. These include the regulation of hazardous wastes, landfill regulations, and setting recycling goals. There is no federal law that mandates recycling, so recycling legislation is localized through city or state governments. Individual states and cities are responsible for management of waste and can create recycling goals or landfill bans of recyclable materials. The United States also has a national solid waste management law called the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which creates a framework for management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid wastes.

Despite the high quantity of waste being discarded in over 1,900 landfills across the United States, the country’s recycling rates have been increasing since the 1960s. In 2014, about the country generated roughly 259 million tons of municipal solid waste .

Each year on November 15th Americans, celebrate “America Recycles Day” to encourage citizens to recycle and buy recycled products. America Recycles Day has been a program established by the national non-profit, Keep America Beautiful.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 25 most important statistics relating to "Recycling in the United States".

Recycling in the U.S.

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Important key figures

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Recycling by type

U.S. waste industry

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