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About 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is just 33%. (Environmental Protection Agency)

More than ½ million trees are saved each year by recycling paper in Boulder County. (Eco-Cycle)

By recycling more than 57,000 tons of steel cans, we reduce greenhouse gasses equivalent to taking more than 21,000 cars off the road each year. (WM)

Recycling glass instead of making it from silica sand reduces mining waste by 70%, water use by 50%, and air pollution by 20%. (Environmental Defense Fund)

If we recycled all of the newspapers printed in the U.S. on a typical Sunday, we would save 550,000 trees—or about 26 million trees per year. (California Department of Conservation)

The energy saved each year by steel recycling is equal to the electrical power used by 18 million homes each year—or enough energy to last Los Angeles residents for eight years. (Steel Recycling Institute)

The total volume of solid waste produced in the U.S. each year is equal to the weight of more than 5,600 Nimitz Class air craft carriers, 247,000 space shuttles, or 2.3 million Boeing 747 jumbo jets. (Beck)

An average kitchen-size bag of trash contains enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 24 hours. (Covanta)

The solid waste industry currently produces more than half of America's renewable energy, more than combined energy outputs of the solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power industries. (U.S. DOE, Energy Information Administration)

Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil (enough to run the average car for 1,260 miles), 4,100 kilowatts of energy (enough power for the average home for 6 months), 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space, and 60 pounds of air pollution. (Trash to Cash)

Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to operate a TV for 3 hours. (Eco-Cycle)

Glass can be recycled an indefinite number of times and never wears out. (National Recycling Coalition)

Making glass from recycled material cuts related water pollution by 50%. (National Recycling Coalition)

If we put all of the solid waste collected in the U.S. in a line of average garbage trucks, that line of trucks could cross the country, extending from New York City to Los Angeles, more than 100 times. (Beck)

Five PET bottles (plastic soda bottles) yield enough fiber for one extra large T-shirt, one square food of carpet or enough fiber fill to fill one ski jacket. (National Recycling Coalition)

The average person has the opportunity to recycle more than 25,000 cans in a lifetime. (National Recycling Coalition)

Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 12-foot-high wall of paper from New York to Seattle. (National Recycling Coalition)

The average American discards seven and a half pounds of garbage every day. (National Recycling Coalition)

Once an aluminum can is recycled, it's back on the grocery shelf as another aluminum can in 60 days. (

Americans throw away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet. (

Tossing away an aluminum can wastes as much energy as pouring out half of that can's volume of gasoline. (

Enough aluminum cans were recycled last year to fill a hollow Empire State Building 24 times. (

The 62.6 billion cans recycled last year alone would make 171 circles around the earth at its equator. (

Some 119,482 cans are recycled every minute nationwide. (

More garbage facts

Keeping Communities Health and Clean Poster Image

NW&RA's Illinois Chapter News

NW&RA's Illinois Chapter Resources

  • Learn about NW&RA's recycling toolkit (create or improve an existing recycling program)
  • Download NW&RA's factsheet about new Illinois state eWaste recycling law.
  • Where Does Garbage Go? Tool detailing trash management process