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  • Writer's pictureSophia Wang

Half of Household Recyclables Are Going Into Landfills

Recently, The Recycling Partnership, a recycling program nonprofit based in Washington DC, found that 50% of recyclable materials are being dumped in normal trash cans around the US, adding up to around 15 million tons per year that end up in landfills. The greatest reasons for this as determined by the report are a lack of knowledge and a lack of confidence.

Many Americans are confused by the labels put on recyclable materials and don’t receive enough communication about how to recycle items, which combined result in a lower rate of recycling. Much of this confusion comes from not knowing which materials can be recycled, such as Styrofoam and remaining food waste. Additional confusion can come from not knowing how clean something must be and what to do with things that are made up of more than one material.

Some also have conflicting opinions on how useful recycling really is. While around 80% still find that recycling has a “positive impact” and is a “valuable public service,” 44% think their recycling may just be going in the trash and 35% aren’t sure if their recycling is being handled properly.

However, the report provides some solutions to increase recycling rates with the main one being improving communication between recycling providers and customers. Examples would be sending out information cards, stickers, or signs including what can and can’t be recycled. Another solution is to make the recycling process easier, encouraging more Americans to participate.


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