Recycling Facts - U.S. Economy

Overall, Americans recovered 34% of waste generated in 2011.

In 2010, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled and composted over 85 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.1 percent recycling rate. On average, we recycled and composted 1.51 pounds
out of our individual waste generation of 4.43 pounds per person per day.

In 2009, Americans recycled 82 million tons of materials. The resulting CO2 emission reduction is equivalent to taking 33 million passenger vehicles off the road. The recyclable materials in the U.S. waste stream would generate over $7 billion if they were recycled. That’s equivalent to Donald Trump’s net worth.

The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years. 1,121,84 employees in collections, processing, manufacturing and remanufacturing , generating an annual payroll of 37 billion dollars!

Recent independent research shows there is enough material to meet domestic manufacturers’ demand for recycled materials for the foreseeable future.

250 million metric tons of scrap materials recycled annually including:
• 81.6 million tons of Iron and Steel
• 50 million tons of Paper
• 5 million tons of Aluminum
• 1.8 million tons of Copper
• 2 million tons of Stainless Steel
• 1.3 million tons of Lead
• 420,000 tons of Zinc
• 45 million pounds of Plastic (bottles)
• 2.4 million tons of Electronics
• 285 million Tires Annually

Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save:
• 3.5 cubic yards of landfill
• 17 thirty foot (pulp) trees
• 7,000 gallons of water
• 380 gallons of oil
• 4100 kwh of energy
And, at the same time eliminate 60 pounds of air pollutants

Recycling Facts - Global Trade

Scrap has been an important export commodity from the US for more than a century.

In 2007 —
$21.7 billion worth of scrap commodities exported, helping U.S. trade balances. 38 million metric tons of scrap exported including:

• 18,127,139 Paper
• 15,632,257 Iron & Steel
• 1,546,373,668 Aluminum
• 955,232 Nickel & Stainless
• 906,510 Copper
• 472,302 Plastic (bottles only)
• 128,836 Lead
• 102,305 Zinc
• 60,762 Rubber

Recent independent research shows there is enough material to meet domestic manufacturers’ demand for recycled materials for the foreseeable future.

Scrap exported to 152 countries. Leading export destinations include:

• China
• Canada
• South Korea
• Mexico
• Germany
• Taiwan
• Turkey
• Japan
• United Kingdom
• India

Recycling Facts - Our Environment

Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by requiring significantly less energy to manufacture products from recyclables than virgin ore and by avoiding landfilling.

Energy saved using recycled materials vs. virgin ore:
• 95% for aluminum
• 85% for copper
• 80% for plastic
• 74% for iron and steel
• 64% for paper

Conserves natural resources. Recycling one ton of:
• Paper saves 17 trees, 79 gallons of oil, 7000 gallons of water, and 3.3 cubic yards of landfill.
• Steel conserves 2500 lbs. of iron ore, 1400 lbs. of coal and 120 lbs. of limestone.

Cleaner air and water from safely removing potentially hazardous materials and keeping them out of landfills.
• Mercury switches removed from older automobiles.
• Lead recovered from computer monitors.
• Various harmful chemicals safely recycled from electronics.


More recycling resources can be found on the following links:

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. -