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.
General Recycling Facts
The average person creates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year
Over 75% of waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it
Canada produced 777 kg per capita of municipal waste in 2008, twice as much as the best performer, Japan.
93% of Canadian households have access to at least one form of recycling program
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
On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it
97% of Nova Scotia households and 95% of Ontario households had access to at least one recycling program
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
With just 5.1% of the world’s population, North America consumes 24% of the Earth’s resources
Canada recycles about 27% of its waste today
Airports and airlines recycle less than 20 percent of the 425,000 tons of passenger-related waste they produce each year
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, an extra million tons of waste is generated each week
38,000 miles of ribbon are thrown away each year. That’s enough to tie a big pretty bow around the Earth
88% of Canadian households have access to glass and paper recycling programs
Canada ranks in last place out of 17 countries and gets a “D” grade on the municipal waste generation report card.
In 2009, the average amount of waste generated by each person in Canada per day was 4.6 pounds.
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
The global recycling industry is valued at $160 billion dollars and employs over 1.5 million people!
In 2003, 290 million tires were discarded. 130 million of these tires were burned as fuel
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
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
Approximately 35% of municipal solid waste is packaging
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!
Plastic Recycling Facts
Many grocery stores in Canada take plastic bags for recycling
An estimated 88% of water bottles are not recycled in Canada.
It takes a 15-year-old tree to produce 700 grocery bags
Plastics require 100 to 400 years to break down n a landfill
After Ireland created a 15-cent charge per plastic bag in 2002, bag consumption dropped by 90%
Producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from raw materials
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
Most bottled water is sourced from municipalities, why pay for something if you can already get it for free?
Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures a year!
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
At one point, Canadians were sending 65 million kilograms of PET beverage containers, many of them water bottles, to landfill or incineration
Recycling one ton of plastic saves the equivalent of 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline
66% of energy is saved when producing new plastic products from recycled materials instead of raw (virgin) materials
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
Paper Recycling Facts
Recycling 14 trees worth of paper reduces air pollutants by 165,142 tons
53.4 % of all paper products are being recycled
In 2010, paper recycling had increased over 89% since 1990
Recycling 54 KG of newspaper will save one tree.
Canada uses 6 million tonnes of paper and paperboard annually. Only 1/4 of Canada’s waste paper and paperboard is recycled
One pound of newspaper can be recycled to make six cereal boxes, six egg cartons or 2000 sheets of writing paper
Recycling 1 ton of paper can save 17 trees, almost 7,000 gallons of water & more than 3 cubic yards of landfill space
More than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers are published each year
In 2008, Paper and paperboard made up 31% of municipal waste.
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
It takes 24 trees to make 1 ton of newspaper
Pollution is also reduced by 95 percent when used paper is made into new sheets
40 percent of all waste going to landfills is paper. Cutting down on paper waste will extend the lives of our landfills
Newspaper can be recycled into egg cartons, game boards, new newspaper, gift boxes, animal bedding, insulation and packaging material
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
The amount of wood and paper North Americans throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years
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.
88% of Canadian homes have access to paper recycling programs
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
We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year
In British Columbia, 80% of each junked car is recycled
An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now
A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days
There was a time when Aluminum was more valuable than gold!
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!
Every minute an average of 123,097 aluminum cans are recycled
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!
More than one million tons of aluminum containers and packaging (soda cans, TV dinner trays, aluminum foil) are thrown away each year
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
Between 1988 and 2013, over a billion tons of steel was recycled!
Nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today
86% of Canadian households have access to recycling for metal cans
Glass Recycling Facts
1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes
88% of Canadian homes have access to glass recycling programs
Glass that is thrown away and ends up in landfills will never decompose
Making glass from recycled materials cuts related air pollution by 20% and water pollution 50%
Energy costs drop about 2-3% for every 10% cullet used in the manufacturing process
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
Glass recycling increased from 750,000 tons in 1980 to more than three million tons in 2012
Food, soft drink, beer, food, wine, and liquor containers represent the largest source of glass generated and recycled
Recycled glass is substituted for up to 95% of raw materials
Recycled glass reduces emissions and consumption of raw materials, extends the life of plant equipment, such as furnaces, and saves energy
Over a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled
One ton of carbon dioxide is reduced for every six tons of recycled container glass used in the manufacturing process
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
Glass bottles have been reduced in weight by more than 50% between 1970 and 2000
Recycling 1,000 tons of glass creates slightly over 8 jobs
Recycling saves 3 to 5 times the energy generated by waste-to-energy plants, even without counting the wasted energy in the burned materials
Renewable energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels
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
The world’s resource base for geothermal energy is larger than the resource base for coal, oil, gas and uranium combined
A world record was set in 1990 when a solar-powered aircraft flew across the USA in 21 stages, using no fuel at all
One wind turbine can produce enough electricity to power up to 300 homes
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
As of May, 2014, wind power generating capacity was 8,517 megawatts(MW), providing about 3% of Canada’s electricity demand
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
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
Between 1999-2010 there was an increase of 122% in end-of-life management if electronics in the US
It takes 1,000 regular batteries to equal the lifespan of one rechargeable battery
An ink cartridge takes 1000 years to bio-degrade
Over 500 million obsolete computers are estimated to be stockpiled in households and corporate warehouses in North America
20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year
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
Every year over 20 million computers become obsolete.
Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled
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
Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year
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
It takes 539 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor
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
In 2010, the US alone produced approximately 3 million tons (metric tons) of e-Waste
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
More than 25% of bottled water comes from a municipal water supply, the same place that tap water comes from
Approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used in the United States per day
Average daily water use in Canada dropped by 27% from 342 litres per person in 1991 to 251 litres per person in 2011.
75 percent of all water used in the household is used in the bathroom
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
Taking a bath requires up to 70 gallons of water. A five-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons
A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day
There are approximately one million miles of water pipeline and aqueducts in the United States and Canada, enough to circle Earth 40 times
Water is the most commonly used renewable energy resource, providing enough power to meet the needs of 28.3 million people
Food Waste Facts
Approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste.
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.
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).
Over 97% of food waste generated ends up in the landfill. (Environmental Protection Agency)
33 million tons of food makes its way to landfills each year.
In 2008, the EPA estimated that food waste cost roughly $1.3 billion to dispose of in landfills.
Food loss costs a family of four, at least, $589.76 annually.
170,000 tons of edible food worth $31 Billion ends up in Canadian landfills every year.
33.79 million tons of food were wasted in the U.S. in 2010 – enough to fill the Empire State Building 91 times.
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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