The new recycling numbers are in, and they seem to be recycled from the year before. Every year the Environmental Protection Agency estimates how much trash we generate, and how much we recycle and compost.
The latest figures are for 2015 and they actually haven’t changed much this entire decade. The EPA calculates that the nation produced 262.4 million tons of municipal solid waste, up 1.5 percent from the previous year.
Of that total, we recycled 67.8 million tons, which amounts to 25.8 percent, and composted 23.4 million tons, or 8.9 percent. That adds up to a recycling and composting rate of 34.7 percent, up just one-tenth of one percent from 2014.
What happens to the rest? Landfills get 52.5 percent of the total waste, while 12.8 percent is burned to create energy.
If there were a World Recycling and Composting League, we wouldn’t make the playoffs. Leaders include Germany (estimated at 65 percent), South Korea (59), Austria (58), Slovenia (58), Belgium (55), Netherlands (50), Switzerland (51), Iceland (45) and Australia (40).
We can, however, gloat around Chile and Turkey (1 percent each), Mexico (5), Slovakia (11), and Greece, Japan and Israel (all at 19).
But in the words of the comedian Jim Jeffries (it sounds better in his Australian accent when he signs off his weekly TV show) “I think we can all do better.”
At Echo Environmental, we take those words to heart. We want the U.S. to make those playoffs, and that’s why we’re here.