Solid Waste Resources
FACTS:
  • Since 1940, Americans have used up as many non-renewable resources as all previous generations combined.
  • According to Julia Butterfly Hill in her book, One Makes a Difference, almost 85% of what we throw away can be recycled.
  • One half of a typical commercial dumpster is recyclable.
  • The item most frequently encountered in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfills is paper - on average, it accounts for more than 32 percent of a landfill's contents.  This proportion has held steady for decades and in some landfills has actually risen.  Newspapers alone can take up as much as 13 percent of the space in US landfills.
  • In 2007, EPA estimates that the United States recycled and composted 33.4% of its garbage (85 million tons of material).  Also in 2007, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced approximately 254 million tons of MSW before recycling (this does not include construction and debris) which is approximately 4.6 pounds of waste per person per day.  You can delve deeper into the data HERE.
  • Some cities, such as the Cities of Palo Alto and Oakland in California, have passed zero waste resolutions with a requirement for the County to reduce land filling by 75% by 2010.
  • According to the U.S. EPA's Personal Emissions Calculator, the approximate annual carbon dioxide emissions due to waste generated prior to recycling is 2,020 pounds for a two person household.  If that same two person household were to recycle the following items it would reduce CO2 emissions by 812 pounds a year.  Recycling newspaper saves 369 lbs, glass saves 51 lbs, plastic saves 93 lbs, and aluminum and steel cans saves 332 lbs.
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