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MSW recycling rate shows minimal growth in USA

United States – The overall recycling rate for municipal solid waste in the USA increased to 34.6% in 2014, up 0.3 percentage points from that of the previous year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Municipal solid waste generation increased to 258.5 million tonnes in the same year, up 1.4% compared to 2013. Recycling and composting grew 2.2% to 89.4 million tonnes.

According to the EPA, recycling of glass decreased by 1.5 percentage points to 32.5% while corrugated boxes achieved a recycling rate of 89.5% and the steel cans figure moved up 0.1 percentage points to 70.7%. Aluminium beverage containers remained flat at 55.1% whereas PET bottles and jars came in at 31.2% for a decline of 0.1 percentage points.

Paper and paperboard recovery volumes grew by 1.4 percentage points to 64.7% in 2014. On the organics side, yard debris saw a national recovery rate of 61% for a one percentage point increase while recovery of food scraps/food-soiled papers remained at 5%.

While there was a year-on-year increase in the volume of material landfilled in the USA, the EPA notes that the 2014 total of 136 million tonnes was still 6.4% below the peak recorded in 1990. The EPA has also released an update of the broader environmental impact of materials recovery efforts in the USA.

Based on latest figures, recycling and reuse activities accounted for 757 000 jobs, US$ 36.6 billion in wages and US$ 6.7 billion in tax revenues. ‘Recycling is not only an asset to our environmental and social goals, but a boost to our economy,’ comments Mathy Stanislaus, the EPA’s assistant administrator to the office of land and emergency management.

‘America’s great strides toward prioritising recycling are evident. We’ve educated our communities, citizens and businesses to recycle more, quadrupling our recycling rate since 1976 and creating a more sustainable world,’ he adds. 

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