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  1. Although the EPA reports that approximately 33% of municipal waste is recycled, municipal waste makes up only a small portion of all waste generated. These waste statistics also leave out waste that is burned or land filled in unpermitted landfills and incinerators, like burn barrels.16

  2. The barriers of all landfills will eventually break down and leak leachate into ground and surface water. Plastics are not inert, and many landfill liners and plastic pipes allow chemicals and gases to pass through while still intact.16

  3. In 2008, a survey of landfills found that 82 percent of surveyed landfill cells had leaks, while 41 percent had a leak larger than 1 square foot.16

  4. Newer, lined landfills leak in narrow plumes, making leaks only detectable if they reach landfill monitoring wells. Both old and new landfills are usually located near large bodies of water, making detection of leaks and their cleanup difficult.16

  5. Incinerators are a major source of 210 different dioxin compounds, plus mercury, cadmium, nitrous oxide, hydrogen chloride, sulfuric acid, fluorides, and particulate matter small enough to lodge permanently in the lungs. 17

  6. In 2007, the EPA acknowledged that despite recent tightening of emission standards for waste incineration power plants, the waste-to-energy process still “create significant emissions, including trace amounts of hazardous air pollutants.”17

  7. Only 30% of people in the Southern region of the United States had curbside recycling collection in 2008. Eighty-four percent of people in the Northeast had curbside recycling. The South also has the most landfill facilities – 726, in contrast with 134 in the northeast.13

  8. Alaska has 300 landfill facilities, while the entire northeastern region of the United States only has 134.13

  9. In 1960, each person in the US only generated 2.68 pounds of waste. In 1970, the figure was 3.25. However, Americans’ recycling has improved since 2000, when the average American generated 4.65 lbs of waste per day, and only 29% was recycled. Also, in 1980, 89% of Americans’ waste went to a landfill, while only 54% met that fate in 2008.18

  10. While landfill gas is a good fuel, most landfills are not efficiently collecting it. The EPA estimates 75% gas collection efficiency, but some landfills are as low as 9 percent. The 2006 IPCC report used an estimated recovery efficiency of just 20 percent. Even Waste Management, the largest waste company in the United States, has admitted that it is impossible for them to reliably measure methane emissions at their landfills or develop a general model for estimating them.19

  11. Waste incinerators create more CO2 emissions than coal, oil, or natural gas-fueled power plants.17





Recycling For Charities

Recycling saves 95 percent of the energy required to make aluminum from ore.
If the recycling rate were to reach 80% at the current level of beverage container sales, nearly 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided. This is equivalent to taking nearly 2.4 million cars off the road for a full year.

U.S. Beverage Container Recycling Scorecard and Report
In 1972, 53 million pounds of aluminum were recycled. Today, we exceed that amount weekly.
Copyright © 2001 Recycling For Charities. All rights reserved. Revised: 08/26/11