Recycling News

EPA Report: Americans Recycling More

A new EPA report finds that Americans are recycling more and throwing away less. Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, speaking on Oct. 23 at the National Recycling Coalition Conference in Atlanta, announced that U.S. residents recycled 32 percent of their waste in 2005. Including composting, Americans recycled 79 million tons, representing a 2-percent increase from 2004 and a huge jump from 16 percent in 1990.

"Environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility. And with our partners like the National Recycling Coalition, we are encouraging individuals and businesses to embrace their environmental responsibility to recycle," Johnson said.

In all, Americans generated nearly 246 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2005 -- a decrease of nearly 2 million tons from 2004. The decrease is due in part to the decline in individual waste generation to about 4.5 pounds per person per day, representing a 1.5-percent decrease from 2004. In addition to generating less waste, Americans recycled nearly 1.5 pounds per person per day.

The state of the economy has a strong impact on consumption and waste generation, EPA stated. Waste generation continued to increase through the 1990s as economic growth continued to be strong. Between 2000 and 2005, total growth in waste generation slowed.

Other data contained in the report show recycling trends across the board are generally up:

  • Container and packaging recycling increased to 40 percent.
  • Nearly 62 percent of yard waste was composted.
  • About 42 million tons of paper were recycled -- a 50-percent recycling rate.

EPA has collected and reported on data going back to 1960 on the generation and disposal of waste in the United States. The information is used to measure the success of municipal solid waste reduction and recycling programs across the country. The data also shows where the nation needs to make improvements in municipal waste management.

Additional information can be found at

News Item 2: New Partnership Dedicated to Re-Energizing America's Commitment to Recycling

On Oct. 23, the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) announced a partnership with EPA and major food and beverage manufacturers and suppliers to encourage American consumers to recycle more by providing clear, consistent information on what, how and why to recycle.

"This partnership is an unprecedented gathering of recycling advocates, leading trade associations, and government agencies that will breathe new life into the recycling movement," said Kate Krebs, NRC's executive director. "Although many private and public sector organizations communicate with consumers about recycling now, sometimes consumers get mixed messages about how and what to recycle. This new campaign will coordinate those independent activities, combine financial resources, and leverage the vast marketing power of all of the campaign's partners to encourage consumers and private companies to recycle more."

NRC, EPA the American Beverage Association, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association and the International Bottled Water Association, which combined represent the manufacturers and suppliers of America's most popular brands, serve as founding members of the partnership.

"For decades, organizations have used a variety of recycling icons, standards and advertising campaigns to stimulate consumer and corporate recycling," Krebs said. "Many of these campaigns were effective in creating awareness about recycling. However, our current research shows that Americans have lost their sense of urgency about recycling. They aren't always sure about how or what to recycle. This campaign will remind Americans why recycling is as important as ever, and take our nation's recycling participation to the next level."

The campaign is one part of a broader strategy NRC is developing to expand recycling in the United States, officials said. One of the first tasks of the partnership will be the development and dissemination of consumer-friendly recycling icons (such as the familiar chasing arrows symbol) and accurate and standardized recycling terminology for use in product advertising and product labeling.

For more information, contact NRC at

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

Featured Webinar