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Waste
 


 

 
  • The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year.1

  • Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.1

  • Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Westchester NY, Berkeley, and Malibu California have all banned Styrofoam foodware. Laguna Beach and Santa Monica have banned all polystyrene (#6) foodware.2

  • During 2009ís International Coastal Cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy found that plastic bags were the second-most common kind of waste found, at 1 out of ten items picked up and tallied.3

  • Over 7 billion pounds of PVC are thrown away in the U.S. each year. Only 18 million pounds of that, about one quarter of 1 percent, is recycled.3  Chlorine production for PVC uses almost as much energy as the annual output of eight medium-sized nuclear power plants each year.4

  • After Ireland created a 15-cent charge per plastic bag in 2002, bag consumption dropped by 90 percent. In 2008, the average person in Ireland used 27 plastic bags, while the average person in Britain used 220. The program has raised millions of euros in revenue.5

  • The state of California spends about 25 million dollars sending plastic bags to landfill each year, and another 8.5 million dollars to remove littered bags from streets.6

  • Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste.6

  • Plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove.6

  • Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year. Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. The recycled product can be sold for $32.6

  • When the small particles from photodegraded plastic bags get into the water, they are ingested by filter feeding marine animals. Biotoxins like PCBs that are in the particles are then passed up the food chain, including up to humans.7

  • The City of San Francisco determined that it costs 17 cents for them to handle each discarded bag. 7

  • In 2003, 290 million tires were discarded. 130 million of these tires were burned as fuel.8
    In 2004, the Rubber Manufacturers Association estimated that 275 million tires were in stockpiles. Tires in stockpiles can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a habitat for rodents. Because they retain heat, these piles easily ignite, creating toxin-emitting, hard-to-extinguish fires that can burn for months.
    8

  • The oil from just one oil change is enough to contaminate one million gallons of fresh water. Americans who change their own oil throw away 120 million gallons of reusable oil every year.9

  • More than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers are published each year. 10

  • The average American uses about the equivalent of one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products each year.10

  • The average office worker in the US uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. Thatís four million tons of copy paper used annually. Office workers in the US generate approximately two pounds of paper and paperboard products every day. 10

  • Airports and airlines recycle less than 20 percent of the 425,000 tons of passenger-related waste they produce each year.11

  • The estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high.12

  • Between Thanksgiving and New Yearís, an extra million tons of waste is generated each week.12

  • 38,000 miles of ribbon are thrown away each year, enough to tie a bow around the Earth.12

  • In 2008, Paper and paperboard made up 31% of municipal waste. Plastics were 12%.13

  • In 2008, only 23.1% of glass disposed of was recycled, and only 7.1% of plastics and 21.1% of aluminum.13

  • About 31% of MSW generated in the US in 2008 was containers and packaging, or 76,760 thousand tons. Only 43.7% of that was recycled.13

  • In 2008, the average amount of waste generated by each person in America per day was 4.5 pounds. 1.1 pounds of that was recycled, and .4 pounds, including yard waste, was sent to composting. In total, 24.3% of waste was recycled, 8.9% was composted, and 66.8% was sent to a landfill or incinerated. 13

  • The average American employee consumes 2.5 cans of soda each day at work.14

  • The beverage industry used 46 percent less packaging in 2006 than in 1990, even with a 24 percent increase in beverage sales in that time.15


 

 
 


 

 






Recycling For Charities
Wellesley, MA 02481
(617)-983-1489

 
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Recycling saves 95 percent of the energy required to make aluminum from ore.
 
If the recycling rate were to reach 80% at the current level of beverage container sales, nearly 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided. This is equivalent to taking nearly 2.4 million cars off the road for a full year.

U.S. Beverage Container Recycling Scorecard and Report
 
In 1972, 53 million pounds of aluminum were recycled. Today, we exceed that amount weekly.
 
 
Copyright © 2001 Recycling For Charities. All rights reserved. Revised: 10/16/13