These recycling facts have been compiled from various sources including the National Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Earth911.org.
Essential Recycling Facts (source: epa.gov)
- Each person creates about 4.7 pounds of waste every single day
- In the US 33.4% of solid waste is either recycled or composted, 12.6% is burned in combustion facilities and 54% makes its way into landfills
- In 2007 99% of lead acid batteries were recycled, 54% of paper and paperboard were recycled, 64% of yard trimmings are recycled and nearly 35% of metals were recycled
- The amount of recycling in 2007 saved the energy equivalent of 10.7 billion gallons of gasoline and prevented the release of carbon dioxide of approximately 35 million cars
- The number of landfills in the US are decreasing while their size is increasing. In 1998 there were 8,000 landfills but only 1,754 in 2007
- Each ton of mixed paper that is recycled can save the energy equivalent to 185 gallons of gasoline
- Approximately 8,660 curbside recycling programs exist in the United States
- There are about 3,510 community composting programs in the United States
- Disposal of waste to landfills has decreased from 89% in 1980 to 54% in 2007
- Recycling 1 ton of aluminum cans conserves the equivalent of 1,665 gallons of gasoline
- In 2007 the United States recycled and composted 85 million tons of the 254 million tons of municipal solid waste created
Aluminum Recycling Facts
- A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days. That’s closed loop recycling at its finest!
- Used aluminum beverage cans are the most recycled item in the U.S., but other types of aluminum, such as siding, gutters, car components, storm window frames, and lawn furniture can also be recycled.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours — or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
- More aluminum goes into beverage cans than any other product.
- Because so many of them are recycled, aluminum cans account for less than 1% of the total U.S. waste stream, according to EPA estimates.
- An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now!
- There is no limit to the amount of times an aluminum can be recycled.
- We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year.
- At one time, aluminum was more valuable than gold!
- A 60-watt light bulb can be run for over a day on the amount of energy saved by recycling 1 pound of steel. In one year in the United States, the recycling of steel saves enough energy to heat and light 18,000,000 homes!
Paper Recycling Facts
- To produce each week’s Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down.
- Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
- If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
- If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year.
- If you had a 15-year-old tree and made it into paper grocery bags, you’d get about 700 of them. A busy supermarket could use all of them in under an hour! This means in one year, one supermarket can go through over 6 million paper bags! Imagine how many supermarkets there are just in the United States!!!
- The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!
- The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
- Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
- Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person.
- The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
- In 1993, U.S. paper recovery saved more than 90,000,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
- Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
- The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
- The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.
Solid Waste and Landfills
- Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away!
- Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
- Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
- Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year.
- Glass Recycling Facts
- Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable!
- The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
- A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose — and even longer if it’s in the landfill.
- Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.
Miscellaneous Recycling Facts
- An estimated 80,000,000 Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day, using enough aluminum foil to cover over 50 acres of space — that’s almost 40 football fields. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
- Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute!
- A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.
- Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty. Oil can be recycled, re-refined and used again, reducing our reliance on imported oil.
- On average, each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day. This adds up to almost a ton of trash per person, per year.
- A typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That’s a lot of containers — make sure they’re recycled!