36 Shocking Facts on Recycling Globally & US

36 Shocking Facts on Recycling Globally & US
  1. 2/3 of all beverage containers in the United States never get recycled!
  2. Plastic bottles made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) can be recycled into many products, including beverage bottles, plastic strapping, fleece jackets, sleeping bags, and carpets. Yet in 2002, less than a fifth of all plastic beverage bottles in the U.S. were recycled.
  3. Making 1 million tons of plastic bottles from virgin materials (petroleum and other fossil fuels) generates an estimated 732,000 tons of climate-altering greenhouse gases.
  4. People in the U.S. consume more packaged drinks per capita than in any other country—about 350 aluminum cans per person per year, compared to 103 in Sweden, 88 in the United Kingdom, and 14 in France. 
  5. Around 899 thousand tons of PET plastic bottles were recycled nationwide (US)  in 2013, but more than two times as much PET was wasted: 2 million tons.*
  6. “to overhaul the bottle bill, which historically has resulted in the recycling of more than 50 million beverage containers daily – 20% of the nationwide total – in the process saving enough energy each year to power the equivalent of 300,000 households.”
  7. Besides seriously impacting the environment, the availability of fewer RCs also means fewer opportunities for consumers to get back their bottle deposits. According to CalRecycle, in fiscal year 2017-18, Californians lost out on $308 million in unredeemed deposits – an all-time high for the state. 
  8. California has perhaps the most inconvenient redemption infrastructure of any of the dozens of container deposit programs in the world. Californians have only one redemption center for every 26,000 people (for example, Oregon has at least 40% more redemption locations than California, even though Oregon’s population is only one-ninth the size of California’s). 5-Year History and Impacts of Redemption Center 
  9. Last year, the equivalent of 68,000 shipping containers of American plastic recycling were exported from the US to developing countries that mismanage more than 70% of their own plastic waste.
  10. The newest hotspots for handling US plastic recycling are some of the world’s poorest countries, including Bangladesh, Laos, Ethiopia and Senegal, offering cheap labor and limited environmental regulation.
  11. Just 5% of the Earth’s population produces 40% of the Earth’s waste.
  12. The global recycling industry employs over 1.5 million people, making it a $160 billion a year industry!
  13. Switzerland has the highest recycling rate in the world with over 52% of its waste getting recycled. Austria comes in a close second with a recycling rate of 49.7%.
  14. The U.S. recycles 31.5% of its waste, making it 7th in the world for recycling.
  15. Romania wins the uncoveted award for the worst recycling rate in Europe with 99% of its waste being sent to landfills.
  16. The average home in Germany has at least five distinct color-coded bins for different kinds of waste! These include bins for packaging, paper, glass, compost, and trash.
  17. Every seven weeks an average person in the UK throws away their body weight in trash. Fortunately, recycling rates in the UK are on the rise!
  18. Recycling rates in Australia are high with 95% of Australian households partaking in recycling programs!
  19. Aluminum is extremely easy and cost effective to recycle but the global recycling rate for aluminum is only 69.1%.
  20. China is the world leader in reusing aluminum, with 99.5% of it’s aluminum waste being recycled!
  21. Switzerland recycles over 167 metric tons of paper per 1,000 people each year, making it the world leader in paper recycling.
  22. Japan recycles 76% of its plastic, making it top in the world for plastic recycling.
  23. Around one billion tires are produced in the world each year. The U.S. and EU each recycle only around 15% of their scrap tires, leaving lots of room for improvement in the rubber recycling arena!
  24. Over 100 million tons of plastic are consumed worldwide each year. Recycling one plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60W light bulb for six hours.
  25. Nearly 1/5th of the waste produced in Greece is plastic and only 1% of that plastic is recycled!
  26. Recycling rates in South Africa are on the rise with 40% of glass waste being recycled in 2013. This may not sound like much but it’s a 230% rise from six years prior!
  27. Households in the UK produce 30.5 million tons of waste each year, with only 17% of that waste being collected for recycling.
  28. Americans generate approximately 3.4 million tons of e-waste each year and only 27% of that gets recycled.
  29. Enough metal was salvaged from corset stays during World War I to build two warships!
  30. During World War II, when raw materials were scarce, paper was recycled at a rate of 33%. This number fell sharply when the war ended.
  31. Each year, an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the world’s ocean from coastal regions. That’s about equivalent to five grocery bags of plastic trash piled up on every foot of coastline on the planet. 
  32. 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown away every hour in America.
  33. Recycling plastic takes 88% less energy than making it from raw materials

  34. Only 23% of disposable water bottles are recycled

  35. Recycling one ton of plastic saves the equivalent of 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline.

  36. Recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves the equivalent energy usage of a two person household for one year.