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Recycling Facts and Figures

Recycling initiatives are a key part of efforts to reduce consumption and enhance the preservation of our natural resources. The recycling industry faces many headwinds as the price for scrap falls and the public becomes apathetic to the continued effort.

The EPA regularly tracks a bevy of facts and figures to report on how these initiatives are going in the U.S. These statistics from the 2018 report provide a snapshot of recycling efforts as of 2015.

General Recycling and Waste Management Facts

According to the EPA, in 2015 alone, about 262 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) were generated in the United States. More than 91 million tons of that amount (around 34.7%) were recycled and composted. Around 137 million tons (52.5%) of the remaining amount were sent to landfills and 33 million tons (12.8%) were incinerated. In 2015, 68 million tons of MSW were recycled, or just over one-quarter of total MSW.

In 2010, total MSW in the U.S. amounted to 251.1 million tons. 85.4 million tons of that (34.0%) were recycled.

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