How Accurate is This Data?


Have you ever wondered how much trash you create on a day-to-day basis?

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempts to calculate how much waste the average American actually generates. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) represents all of the garbage that we throw out daily, ranging from grass clippings to batteries. The most recent EPA report comes from 2011, which shows a promising increase in recycling, however, the 50 states do not count waste consistently.

The typical American generates as little as 4.4 pounds of waste a day. This number represents everything that is tossed away, whether it is going to be recycled or not. After a year, the average person is expected to generate 1,606 pounds of waste, adding to the 250 million tons of waste amassed in the United States.

Thanks to a renewed state and local interest in the environment, 34% is recycled, up slightly from last year, 11% is burned for energy but 55% is still sent to landfills.  The largest portion recycled includes corrugated boxes, glass bottles, cans, batteries, and office paper paper representing one quarter of the waste generated per person a day.  But more needs to be done.

Over the last 5 years or so composting was thought to be the best answer for yard and food waste both large parts of the current waste stream.  Unfortunately, the process was hard to manage, costly to operate and riddled with odor, citing, and transportation emission problems.

Aside from reducing green house gas emissions, which contribute to global warming, recycling provides significant economic and job creation impacts.  The EPA is helping change the way our society protects the environment and conserves resources for future generations by thinking beyond recycling, composting, and disposal by researching and relying on green technologies, like the Eco-Safe Digester, to reach faster and more reliable recycling success. Accurate data on municipal solid waste generation, recycling and disposal is an important starting point in finding the best approach.

Although recycling rates are on a slow rise again, the largest percentage of waste is still going into landfills causing concerns.  Landfills themselves are slowly reaching capacity and have proven to degrade our environment.


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