America sucks on recycling of waste (and some startling statistics)

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Trash in the US
Trash in the US.
Trash in the US. Photo in public domain.

Americans recycle just 25% of their municipal waste compared to Germany which is the most efficient at 68%.

A Guardian newspaper report tells us that the United States of America represents 4% of the world’s population but produces 12% of municipal solid waste. India and China represent 36% of the world’s population. These countries generate 27% of the world’s waste.

In 2015, America generated 262 million tonnes of municipal waste. More than half of this went into landfill. 30% of it was plastic. About a quarter of it was recycled. More than 2.1 billion metric tons of municipal waste is generated annually, globally. This is enough to fill 822,000 Olympics-sized swimming pools. A mere 16% of this huge mountain of waste is recycled.

Globally, since 1950, people have produced 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic. There is enough plastic on the planet to cause real disruption to marine food webs which is already happening. America has been accused of blocking international efforts to limit plastic waste. America is not part of a global agreement to slow down the “flow of poor-quality plastic to developing nations”.

Plastics are made from petroleum. They are a cause of climate change. According to the UN Gen Assembly by 2050 plastics could account for 20% of all consumption and 15% of the carbon dioxide budget. It is estimated that 234 pounds of plastic waste is produced per person per year in America.

In conclusion, America produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries on the planet. The figures come from an analysis by the global risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft which are reported on by the Guardian newspaper. I thank them for the information which is quite shocking to be perfectly honest.

Do I need to explain how trash damages wildlife? I don’t think so. Think David Attenborough for starters.