Environmental Protection

Saturday is America Recycles Day; Report Shows U.S. Recycling Rate is 33%

Saturday is the 11th anniversary of America Recycles Day, a day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products. More than 35 states are holding America Recycles Day events, with state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and large industry partners promoting recycling efforts. The official day is supported by the National Recycling Coalition and sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Our recycling rate has increased as more and more Americans recognize that recycling helps our environment and our economy," said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "On America Recycles Day, I encourage Americans to celebrate the nation's progress, but also to learn about opportunities to do more."

EPA's new 2007 Municipal Solid Waste Characterization report shows Americans recycled and composted 85 million tons of the 254 million tons of total municipal solid waste produced last year. Each person produced 4.6 pounds of trash per day, of which 1.5 pounds were recycled or composted, making for a national recycling rate average of 33.4 percent. Recycling has increased slightly over 2006, when people recycled and composted around 82 million tons of the 251 million tons of total municipal solid waste produced.

Americans save energy, conserve natural resources, and help reduce climate change every time they reduce, reuse, or recycle. According to EPA, recycling 85 billion tons of municipal solid waste in 2007 saved the energy equivalent of more than 10.7 billion gallons of gasoline and prevented the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 35 million passenger vehicles. Recycling also provides economic benefits by reducing costs to businesses and creating jobs, the agency notes. The American recycling and reuse industry is a $200 billion dollar enterprise involving more than 50,000 recycling and reuse establishments, employing more than one million people, and generating an annual payroll of approximately $37 billion.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/msw99.htm.

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