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Recycling & Sustainability Facts

It’s difficult staying on top of recycling facts and even more difficult ensuring they’re up to date and accurate. This page will always be the best source for recycling and sustainability facts. We have eco-minions working around the clock to ensure that every fact is as accurate as can be while coming from the most reputable sources. Also, don’t forget to check out our Twitter and Pinterest page for artful renderings of the following facts to share with your friends, coworkers and community.

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General Recycling Facts

The average person creates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year

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Over 75% of waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it

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Canada produced 777 kg per capita of municipal waste in 2008, twice as much as the best performer, Japan.

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93% of Canadian households have access to at least one form of recycling program

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Prince Edward Island leads the pack for both access and utilisation: 99% of households reported having access to and making use of at least one recycling program

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On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it

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97% of Nova Scotia households and 95% of Ontario households had access to at least one recycling program

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The use of single-use plastic packaging, which is largely not recyclable, has grown from 120,000 tons in 1960 to 12.7 million tons in 2006

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With just 5.1% of the world’s population, North America consumes 24% of the Earth’s resources

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Canada recycles about 27% of its waste today

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Airports and airlines recycle less than 20 percent of the 425,000 tons of passenger-related waste they produce each year

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Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, an extra million tons of waste is generated each week

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38,000 miles of ribbon are thrown away each year. That’s enough to tie a big pretty bow around the Earth

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88% of Canadian households have access to glass and paper recycling programs
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Canada ranks in last place out of 17 countries and gets a “D” grade on the municipal waste generation report card.

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In 2009, the average amount of waste generated by each person in Canada per day was 4.6 pounds.

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The beverage industry used 46 percent less packaging in 2006 than in 1990, even with a 24 percent increase in beverage sales in that time

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The global recycling industry is valued at $160 billion dollars and employs over 1.5 million people!

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In 2003, 290 million tires were discarded. 130 million of these tires were burned as fuel

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In 2004, the Rubber Manufacturers Association estimated that 275 million tires were in stockpiles. Tires in stockpiles can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a habitat for rodents. Because they retain heat, these piles easily ignite, creating toxin-emitting, hard-to-extinguish fires that can burn for months

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In North America, approximately 20% of our paper, plastic, glass and metal goods are currently made from recycled material. Experts believe that 50% could be easily achieved

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Approximately 35% of municipal solid waste is packaging

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Every year Americans discard 1.6 million pens. Placed end to end, they would stretch 243 kilometres—enough to cross PEI at it’s thickest point 3.5 times!

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Plastic Recycling Facts

Many grocery stores in Canada take plastic bags for recycling

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An estimated 88% of water bottles are not recycled in Canada.

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It takes a 15-year-old tree to produce 700 grocery bags

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Plastics require 100 to 400 years to break down n a landfill

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After Ireland created a 15-cent charge per plastic bag in 2002, bag consumption dropped by 90%

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Producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from raw materials

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During 2009’s International Coastal Cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy found that plastic bags were the second-most common kind of waste found, at 1 out of ten items picked up and tallied

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Most bottled water is sourced from municipalities, why pay for something if you can already get it for free?

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Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures a year!

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Ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s twice the size of Texas and is floating somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. It’s also 80 percent plastic, and weighs in at 3.5 million tons

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At one point, Canadians were sending 65 million kilograms of PET beverage containers, many of them water bottles, to landfill or incineration

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Recycling one ton of plastic saves the equivalent of 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline

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66% of energy is saved when producing new plastic products from recycled materials instead of raw (virgin) materials

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For every 1 ton of plastic that is recycled we save the equivalent of 2 people’s energy use for 1 year, the amount of water used by 1 person in 2 month’s time and almost 2000 pounds of oil

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Paper Recycling Facts

Recycling 14 trees worth of paper reduces air pollutants by 165,142 tons

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53.4 % of all paper products are being recycled

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In 2010, paper recycling had increased over 89% since 1990

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Recycling 54 KG of newspaper will save one tree.

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Canada uses 6 million tonnes of paper and paperboard annually. Only 1/4 of Canada’s waste paper and paperboard is recycled

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One pound of newspaper can be recycled to make six cereal boxes, six egg  cartons or 2000 sheets of writing paper

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Recycling 1 ton of paper can save 17 trees, almost 7,000 gallons of water & more than 3 cubic yards of landfill space

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More than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers are published each year

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In 2008, Paper and paperboard made up 31% of municipal waste.

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If everyone in Canada wrapped just three presents in reused paper or cloth gift bags, we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey

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It takes 24 trees to make 1 ton of newspaper

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Pollution is also reduced by 95 percent when used paper is made into new sheets

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40 percent of all waste going to landfills is paper. Cutting down on paper waste will extend the lives of our landfills

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Newspaper can be recycled into egg cartons, game boards, new newspaper, gift boxes, animal bedding, insulation and packaging material

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Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4000 kilowatt hours of electricity.  This is enough energy to power the average American home for 5 months

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The amount of wood and paper North Americans throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years

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North Americans consume 323 kg per capita of paper products, Europe consumed 125 kg, Asia consumed 28 kg Latin America consumed 36 kg, Australasia consumed 322 kg, Africa consumed 6 kg, The world’s per capita consumption was 53.8 kg in 2000.

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88% of Canadian homes have access to paper recycling programs

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Metal Recycling Facts

Recycling one aluminum beverage can save enough energy to run a 14 watt CFL bulb (60 watt incandescent equivalent) for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours

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We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year

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In British Columbia, 80% of each junked car is recycled

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An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now

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A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days

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There was a time when Aluminum was more valuable than gold!

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A 60-watt light bulb can be run for over a day on the amount of energy saved by recycling 1 pound of steel. In one year in the United States, the recycling of steel saves enough energy to heat and light 18,000,000 homes!

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Every minute an average of 123,097 aluminum cans are recycled

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Twenty years ago, it took 19 aluminum cans to make one pound, but today’s aluminum cans are lighter and it now takes 29 cans to make a pound! That means less aluminum is wasted, saving energy and other environmental resources!

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More than one million tons of aluminum containers and packaging (soda cans, TV dinner trays, aluminum foil) are thrown away each year

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It is estimated that over the past twenty years, we’ve trashed more than 11 million tons of aluminum beverage cans worth over $12 billion on today’s market

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Between 1988 and 2013, over a billion tons of steel was recycled!

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Nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today

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86% of Canadian households have access to recycling for metal cans

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Glass Recycling Facts

1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes

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88% of Canadian homes have access to glass recycling programs

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Glass that is thrown away and ends up in landfills will never decompose

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Making glass from recycled materials cuts related air pollution by 20% and water pollution 50%

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Energy costs drop about 2-3% for every 10% cullet used in the manufacturing process

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About 39% of beer and soft drink bottles were recovered for recycling in 2009. Also recovered were about 18.1% of wine and liquor bottles as well as almost 18% of food jars. In total, 31.1% of all glass containers were recycled

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Glass recycling increased from 750,000 tons in 1980 to more than three million tons in 2012

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Food, soft drink, beer, food, wine, and liquor containers represent the largest source of glass generated and recycled

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Recycled glass is substituted for up to 95% of raw materials

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Recycled glass reduces emissions and consumption of raw materials, extends the life of plant equipment, such as furnaces, and saves energy

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Over a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled

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One ton of carbon dioxide is reduced for every six tons of recycled container glass used in the manufacturing process

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In 2012, 41% of beer and soft drink bottles were recovered for recycling. Another 34% of wine and liquor bottles and 15% of food and other glass jars were recycled. In total, 34.1% of all glass containers were recycled, equivalent to taking 210,000 cars off the road each year

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Glass bottles have been reduced in weight by more than 50% between 1970 and 2000

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Recycling 1,000 tons of glass creates slightly over 8 jobs

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Energy Facts

Recycling saves 3 to 5 times the energy generated by waste-to-energy plants, even without counting the wasted energy in the burned materials

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Renewable energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels

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Renewable energy investments are cost effective. The International Renewable Energy Agency released a new policy brief showing that renewable energy has become the most cost-effective way to generate electricity for hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are not on the grid

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The world’s resource base for geothermal energy is larger than the resource base for coal, oil, gas and uranium combined

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A world record was set in 1990 when a solar-powered aircraft flew across the USA in 21 stages, using no fuel at all

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One wind turbine can produce enough electricity to power up to 300 homes

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If it could be properly harnessed, enough sunlight falls on the earth in just one hour to meet world energy demands for a whole year

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As of May, 2014, wind power generating capacity was 8,517 megawatts(MW), providing about 3% of Canada’s electricity demand

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The Canadian Wind Energy Association has outlined a future strategy for wind energy that would reach a capacity of 55,000 MW by 2025, meeting 20% of the country’s energy needs

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Electronic Waste Facts

For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered

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Between 1999-2010 there was an increase of 122% in end-of-life management if electronics in the US

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It takes 1,000 regular batteries to equal the lifespan of one rechargeable battery

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An ink cartridge takes 1000 years to bio-degrade

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Over 500 million obsolete computers are estimated to be stockpiled in households and corporate warehouses in North America

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20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year

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Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals like gold or silver. Americans dump phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year

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Every year over 20 million computers become obsolete.

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Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled

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For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered

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Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year

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A large number of what is labeled as “e-waste” is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery

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It takes 539 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor

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Electronic items that are considered to be hazardous include, but are not limited to:Televisions and computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes, LCD desktop monitors, LCD televisions, Plasma televisions, Portable DVD players with LCD screens

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In 2010, the US alone produced approximately 3 million tons (metric tons) of e-Waste

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The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled, the rest of these electronics go directly into landfills and incinerators

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Water Facts

More than 25% of bottled water comes from a municipal water supply, the same place that tap water comes from

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Approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used in the United States per day

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Average daily water use in Canada dropped by 27% from 342 litres per person in 1991 to 251 litres per person in 2011.

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75 percent of all water used in the household is used in the bathroom

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The average faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute.  You can save up to four gallons of water every morning by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth

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Taking a bath requires up to 70 gallons of water.  A five-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons

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A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day

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There are approximately one million miles of water pipeline and aqueducts in the United States and Canada, enough to circle Earth 40 times

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Water is the most commonly used renewable energy resource, providing enough power to meet the needs of 28.3 million people

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Food Waste Facts

Approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste.

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Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or 33.79 million tons of food were wasted in the U.S. in 2010 – enough to fill the Empire State Building 91 times.

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Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons).

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Over 97% of food waste generated ends up in the landfill. (Environmental Protection Agency)

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33 million tons of food makes its way to landfills each year.

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In 2008, the EPA estimated that food waste cost roughly $1.3 billion to dispose of in landfills.

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Food loss costs a family of four, at least, $589.76 annually.

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170,000 tons of edible food worth $31 Billion ends up in Canadian landfills every year.

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33.79 million tons of food were wasted in the U.S. in 2010 – enough to fill the Empire State Building 91 times.

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We’ve compiled these facts from various sources and make every effort to give accurate information. If one of these facts doesn’t add up, don’t hesitate to let us know!

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