by Russell McLendon Eco-journalist.
In 2009, the most recent year for which nationwide data are available, the U.S. generated 243 million tons of municipal solid waste, which met the following fates:
- Discarded in landfills: 54.3 percent
- Recovered for recycling: 25.2 percent
- Recovered for composting: 8.6 percent
- Burned for energy: 11.9 percent
That’s not bad, considering less than 7 percent of the country’s trash was recycled in 1960, and nearly 94 percent of it wound up in landfills. But since that 94 percent totaled only 82.5 million tons, and today’s 54 percent totals 132 million tons, it’s clear the job is far from finished.