It’s America Recycles Day in Pa. Here’s how you do it, by the numbers | The Numbers Racket

As of 2018, America generated 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste — or 4.9 pounds per person per day

By: - November 15, 2021 7:05 am

Do you recycle at home? Any idea how much you recycle? Don’t answer that! We have all the data right here on nationwide recycling trends and trends at the state level, just in time to observe America Recycles Day, and before you ask, yes, that’s a thing. 

National Recycling Rates 

As of 2018, the total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) was 292.4 million tons or 4.9 pounds per person per day, an increase of 23.7 million tons from 2017, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Of that 292.4 million, nearly 94 million tons, or 32.1 percent were recycled (69 million tons) or composted (25 million tons).

The EPA further broke down its findings, showing the percentage of waste contributed by each material. 

Paper and paperboard … 23.05 percent

Food … 21.59 percent

Plastics … 12.20 percent

Yard Trimmings … 12.11 percent

Metals … 8.76 percent

Wood … 6.19 percent

Textiles … 5.83 percent

Glass … 4.19 percent

Rubber and Leather … 3.13 percent

Other materials … 1.56 percent

Misc. Inorganic wastes … 1.39 percent

Now, let’s look at the percentage rate recycled by material. 

Paper and paperboard made up 66.54 percent of all MSW recycled. 

Metals made up 12.62 percent of all MSW recycled. 

Rubber, Leather and textiles made up 6.05 percent of all MSW recycled. 

Wood made up 4.49 percent of all MSW recycled. 

Plastics made up 4.47 percent of all MSW recycled. 

Glass made up 4.43 percent of all MSW recycled. 

Other materials made up 1.40 percent of all MSW recycled. 

 Pennsylvania Recycles

According to 2018 data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Keystone State recycled more than 5.47 million tons of MSW, a decrease from the 6.36 million tons recycled in 2017. 

By County 

The map below shows 2018 recycling totals by county. How many tons did your county recycle?

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.