TRASH FACTS

Trash Facts

• America’s waste industry successfully manages 250 million tons of household and other municipal solid waste annually (U.S. EPA, “Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2008” [EPA Facts and Figures]).

• The average American discards four and a half pounds of garbage every day (EPA Facts and Figures).

• However, when construction and demolition waste and non-hazardous industrial waste is included, the industry manages nearly 545 million tons of solid waste each year (“Size of the United States Solid Waste Industry,” R.W. Beck, Inc. 2001).

• The total volume of solid waste produced in the U.S. each year is equal to the weight of more than 5,600 Nimitz Class air craft carriers, 247,000 space shuttles, or 2.3 million Boeing 747 jumbo jets (Beck).

• If we put all of the solid waste collected in the U.S. in a line of average garbage trucks, that line of trucks could cross the country, extending from New York City to Los Angeles, more than 100 times (Beck).

• America’s solid waste industry collected and processed more than 61 million tons of recyclables in 2008, and more than 22 million tons of yard and food waste that was composted (EPA Facts and Figures).

• We have helped America reach a national recycling rate of almost 33 percent [EPA Facts and Figures].

• Some 119,482 cans are recycled every minute nationwide (Aluminum Association).

• The 62.6 billion cans recycled last year alone would make 171 circles around the earth at its equator (Aluminum Association).

• Glass can be recycled an indefinite number of times and never wears out (National Recycling Coalition).

• Recycling glass instead of making it from silica sand reduces mining waste by 70 percent, water use by 50 percent, and air pollution by 20 percent (Environmental Defense Fund).

• 86 percent (approximately 254 million) of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs (http://earth911.org).

• More than 37 percent of the fiber used to make new paper products in the United States comes from recycled sources (http://earth911.org).

• Every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space (http://earth911.org).

• If we recycled all of the newspapers printed in the U.S. on a typical Sunday, we would save 550,000 trees—or about 26 million trees per year (California Department of Conservation).

• Five PET bottles (plastic soda bottles) yield enough fiber for one extra large T-shirt, one square food of carpet or enough fiber fill to fill one ski jacket (National Recycling Coalition).

• As of December 2009, 509 landfill-gas-to-energy projects delivered 304 mmscfd of landfill gas and 1,563 megawatts of electricity to corporate and government users, enough renewable energy to power 1.6 million homes. The environmental benefits are equivalent to cutting our oil consumption by 58 million barrels a year and not burning 350,000 railcars of coal (U.S. EPA, Landfill Methane Outreach Program [LMOP]).

• America’s solid waste industry currently operates 87 waste-to-energy facilities that generate approximately 17 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year — enough to power an estimated 1.7 million homes (Energy Recovery Council, 2008).

• An average kitchen-size bag of trash contains enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 24 hours (Covanta).

• A variety of manufacturing plants, schools, government buildings and other facilities currently are using landfill gas for heating and cooling.

• The solid waste industry currently produces more than half of America's renewable energy, more than combined energy outputs of the solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power industries (U.S. DOE, Energy Information Administration).

• These experts assist regulators in developing effective regulations to protect the environment.

• We have developed innovative landfill technologies to protect the environment.

• Today’s modern, state-of-the-art landfills are sited, engineered, built, and operated and maintained in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

• Technology underpins modern garbage collection and is helping preserve the environment, conserve energy and reduce garbage collection costs.

• We are reliable first responders during natural disasters and crises.

• Solid waste collection employees help deter crimes, rescue people and act as the “eyes and ears” for local law enforcement.

• Our companies and employees are active community participants and promote civic goals and goodwill through sponsorships and direct involvement.