The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its most recent Facts and Figures data on national municipal solid waste (MSW), covering the year 2015. The national recycling rate for that year went up slightly from 34.6 percent to 34.7 percent.

According to the report, the total generation of municipal solid waste in 2015 was 262.4 million tons, an increase from the 259 million tons generated in 2014 and the 208.3 million tons in 1990. MSW generated in 2015 increased slightly to 4.48 pounds per person per day.

The total material recycled in 2015 was 67.8 million tons, with paper and paperboard accounting for approximately 67 percent of that amount. Metals comprised about 12 percent, while glass, plastic and wood made up between 4 and 5 percent. The total MSW composted was 23.4 million tons, including approximately 21.3 million tons of yard trimmings (almost a five-fold increase since 1990) and 2.1 million tons of food waste.

Of all the material generated in 2015, 52.5 percent went to landfills, 25.8 percent was recycled, 12.8 percent was combusted via WTE facilities and 8.9 percent was composted.

Unlike prior years’ reports on MSW data and recycling, the recent report does not mention GHG emissions associated with recycling. Instead, it discusses job creation. SWANA is using “job creation” in its advocacy in Congress as it works as part of a broader coalition to have funding for recycling education be included in a future Infrastructure Bill.

If you have feedback or questions about this alert, contact the Hoosier Chapter.