The Environmental Impact of Recycling

The good news is that we’re recycling more than ever. The bad news is that we can do much better. Although many of us recycle, we’re still only recycling about 37% of all the municipal solid waste (MSW)) that we produce every day. That sounds a bit discouraging, and we want to encourage you to keep going, and maybe even do more in the future. So, since it’s the new year, let’s take a look back at the most recent recycling numbers to see just how big of an impact recycling makes on our lives.

Recycling by the numbers

We’re recycling more cardboard than ever!

How big of an impact recycling makes

We all diligently separate our recycling in paper, plastic, and glass. And, then we further separate all the different plastics, glasses, and paper products. We feel great when we do it, but it can be hard to tell if any of it makes a difference. As someone in the waste management industry, we’re here to tell you that recycling makes a huge difference. Recycling reduces waste, improves our health, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Recycling by the numbers

The most recent recycling numbers for the US are from 2014. In 2014, we generated about 258 million tons of MSW (trash.) However, only 89 million tons were either composted or recycled. Most of our trash, about 136 million tons ended up in landfills, and the remaining 33 million tons were used to create energy.

What are we recycling

Benefits of recycling

We are getting much better at recycling and composting yard trimmings.

Of all the trash, there are some materials that we’re better at recycling than others. Most of our waste consists of 26% paper and 28% yard trimmings/food, and 13% plastic. All things that can and should be either recycled or composted. But, let’s see how well we did.

  • Cardboard boxes top the recycling chart with an 89% recycling rate.
  • Taking up the number two spot is yard trimmings with a 61% composting rate.

Recycling has reduced carbon emissions

Thanks to all of our recycling effort, we managed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 181 million metric tons. This is the equivalent to the emissions of about 38 million passenger cars. Not bad. But, we can do better.

Waste management and recycling in Maryland and West Virginia

Environmental impact of recycling

We need to be much better at recycling plastic in the future.

Sunrise Sanitation has been in the garbage collection business for over thirty-five years. We provide curbside pickup, bulk pick-up, and recycling for your home, business, or job-site. Sunrise Sanitation was the recipient of the 2016 Recycling Champion Award!

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