Where in the U.S. People Are the Best and Worst at Recycling

Did you know that Americans produce more waste per capita than any other nation in the world? Americans discard about 4.9 pounds of trash per person each day, or 1,800 pounds each year! The U.S. produces over 12% of the entire planet’s trash despite only having 4% of the world’s population. America’s garbage mainly consists of goods that are only used briefly – in fact, 28% of U.S. garbage is packaging and 17.3% is non-durable goods such as clothing and newspaper. It doesn’t have to be this way. Nearly all of America’s waste could be recycled or composted, especially considering that food waste and yard trimming make up 33.7% of U.S. garbage. These materials could be easily composted if America had sufficient infrastructure and awareness. Overall, the current rate of recycling in America is 32%, which has only increased under seven percent since 1960. Of course, some states excel at managing waste while others are contributing to the problem more heavily. This colorful, data-driven infographic from BottleStore.com explores the states that are the best and worst at recycling.


The team at Bottle Store compiled multiple sources of data that reflect on a state’s recycling health to provide a more comprehensive picture. The index uses metrics such as overall recycling rate, recycling rate by various materials (such as cardboard, plastics, cans, etc.), pounds per waste per person that is recycled instead of entering the landfill, the implementation of a bottle deposit system, and recycling laws. Congratulations to Maine, the aptly named Pine Tree State, for being the best state at recycling! We appreciate infographics like this that can help raise awareness of strengths and weaknesses backed by well-organized data. The little pie charts are a lovely color scheme and easy to interpret at a glance. I wonder how much progress we could make just by implementing a bottle bill in ALL states, not just 10?

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