Americans Recycling More and Producing Less Waste

The EPA has been collecting and reporting information and data about municipal solid waste (MSW) since 1960.  They use this data on the generation, disposal and recycling of MSW “…to measure the success of waste reduction and recycling programs across the country.”

Since America started recycling in the late 1800′s, the amount of waste recycled and composted has gotten a little higher each year (see my earlier post on composting to find out how easy for you and how amazing for your lawn and garden composting can be).  But in the last 2 decades those numbers have skyrocketed,  as we can see from the chart below (click to enlarge).

You may be wondering if we got a bit lazy in 2009 as the numbers seem to have dropped a bit.  No worries, concerned citizen, as in 2009 the total of MSW actually decreased.  See the chart below for those numbers.

On average, we are recycling or composting 33.8% of our waste.  Since most people produce about 4.34 pounds of waste everyday,  that means we are recycling or composting 1.46 pounds per person, per day.  Not too bad but I know we can do better! And as more people become aware of the benefits of recycling and composting, and more municipalities make curbside recycling available, I feel confident in prediciting these numbers will continue to rise.

For more information on the EPA’s report, please visit

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