Every year, the US EPA release a report showing the nation's waste generation and recycling. In 2010, waste generation was 250 million tons, up by 7 million tons from 2009. Organic materials continue to be the largest component of waste generation, with paper and paperboard at 28%, yard trimmings and food scraps at 27%. This is followed by plastics (12%), metals (9%) and rubber, leather, and textiles (8%), wood (6%) and glass (5%). Other miscellaneous wastes make up approximately 3 percent of the MSW generated in 2010.
The US EPA estimates that residential waste (including waste from apartment houses) to be 55 to 65 percent of total MSW generation while waste from commercial and institutions (such as businesses, schools, and hospitals) amounted to 35 to 45 percent.
As for recycling, Americans recycled and composted about 85 million tons or 34% of materials generated. This is less than a quarter percent increase from 2009. If the nation were to go to a 75% recycling rate, this would create over 1.1 million more jobs than the current economic situation, according to a new study that came out Tuesday.
The report, titled "More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the US,"is the work of coalition of environmental groups and labor unions. In California, Governor Brown signed AB 341 (Chesbro) into law this year, which sets a 75 percent recycling goal for California by 2020.