Mar 8 2019

Most Recyclables Go to Landfill Because of Recycling Contamination

Recycling vs. Landfill

Materials that could have been reused as recycling go directly into a landfill due to contamination.

Fact 1: The average recycling contamination rate is 25%, or 1 in 4 items.

Fact 2: The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75% of waste is recyclable, yet only close to 34% of it is recycled.

Fact 3: While glass can be reused for an estimated 1 million years, glass cookware — such as Pyrex, ceramics, and ovenware — can’t be recycled.

Fact 4:  Heavily soiled paper, wax coated paper, and shredded paper cannot be recycled.

Fact 5: Compostable items can contaminate your recycling. The processes of composting and recycling are very different, so you can’t recycle food waste or compostable serviceware.

Fact 6: The three-arrow triangle symbol on plastics  does not necessarily indicate that the material is accepted in the local recycling stream.  The symbol also shows the type of plastic it is. Plastics labeled #3 – #7 are typically only recycled in limited areas. So pay close attention!

Fact 7: Nearly 1,000 recycling plants in California alone have shut down within the last two years due to the recycling contamination crisis.

Fact 8:  Did you know that you can recycle your cigarette butts to be converted into energy? Check out TerraCycle and the Butts to Watts program to find out more.

Fact 9: According to the Government Advisory Associates, material recovering facilities in the U.S. using single-stream recycling has increased by 82.6% in the last ten years.

Fact 10: Proper recycling generates over half a million jobs and over 100 billion dollars of economic activity in the U.S.

Fact 11: Total scrap plastic exports have declined by 40% in the last year mostly due to the U.S.’s high level of recycling contamination.

Fact 12: Despite pricey recycling campaigns and new sorting technologies, recycling levels haven’t improved in the U.S. in 20 years.

Fact 13: In 2017, a survey by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries found that 28% of responders were confused a+bout recycling, believing that it was a highly technical and sophisticated issue.

Fact 14: Recycle Across America has launched a massive recycling solution campaign by promoting nationwide standardization of recycling labels.

Read more of the Rubicon recycling report here.

Leave a Comment