In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash but recycled and composted only 34.3%, about 87 million tons. On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of their individual waste generation of 4.40 pounds per person per day.
Why do Americans recycle?
According to a national survey of over 1,000 US adults, 9 in 10 adults recycle (though only half of adults recycle every day) and they do so for a wide variety of benefits of recycling – particularly that it helps to reduce landfills (81%), saves trees (69%), conserves energy (62%), creates jobs (45%) and generates income (33%).
And what stops Americans from recycling?
Adults cite a variety of barriers that prevent them from recycling more, with the top reason being that it is not accessible or convenient to where they live (25%), it is too time consuming (10%), that they just forget (10%), that they aren’t sure what is recyclable and what isn’t (8%), or the cost (6%).
1.5 million new jobs will be generated if the US recycling levels reach 75% — the environmental benefit will be equivalent to removing 50 million cars from the road each year. If 21.5 million tons of food wasted each year gets composted, it would reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas as taking 2 million cars off the road. Every 10,000 tons of solid waste going to landfills, 1 job is created. That same amount of waste – kept out of landfills – can create 10 recycling jobs or 75 materials reuse jobs.
Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves the equivalent energy usage of a two-person household for one year. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year.
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