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Facts and Figures to Make You Think

Through the following facts and figures, we hope you will be inspired to take responsibility in your daily life.

  • Packaging adds 29 million tons of non-biodegradable waste to landfills every year. 11.8% of all US annual municipal solid waste is plastic.

  • Only 5.7% of all plastics are recycled every year.

  • 72% of Americans do not know plastics are made from petroleum and 40% believe petroleum plastics will biodegrade at some point. (Insight Marketing and ADM study, April 27, 2007)

  • 10% of U.S. oil consumption - approximately 2 million barrels a day - is used to make plastic. (Insight Marketing and ADM study, April 27, 2007

  • Plastic does not biodegrade, but instead goes through the process of photo degradation, where it turns into plastic dust. (Waste study, Agalitta Foundation for Marine Research)


Disposable Item Time in Months to Biodegrade (from

  • Recyclaholics products (when composted properly): 2-3
  • Cotton rags:    1-5
  • Paper:    2-5
  • Rope:    3-14
  • Orange peels:    6
  • Cigarette butts:    12-144
  • Paper milk cartons (plastic coated): 60
  • Plastic bags:    120-240
  • Leather shoes:    300-480
  • Nylon fabric:    360-480
  • Tin cans:    600-1200
  • Plastic 6-pack holder rings:    5400
  • Glass bottles:    12 million
  • Plastic bottles:    Forever

Companies that manufacture petroleum-based plastic products dominate the disposable packaging industry. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each year, Americans discard about 14.4 million tons of plastic making up 8% of total waste. Much of the container and packaging waste ends up in landfills, which produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is blamed for contributing significantly to global warming. Methane is considered to be 23 times as harmful as carbon dioxide as a contributor to greenhouse gasses. 

  • In the U.S., 4.39 pounds of trash per day and up to 56 tons of trash per year are created by the average person.

  • Only about one-tenth of all solid garbage in the United States gets recycled.

  • Every year we fill enough garbage trucks to form a line that would stretch from the earth, halfway to the moon.

  • Each day the United States throws away enough trash to fill 63,000 garbage trucks.

  • Almost 1/3 of the waste generated in the U.S. is packaging.

  • Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.

  • Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.

  • Americans throw away enough aluminum cans to rebuild our commercial air fleet every three months, and enough iron and steel to supply all our nation's automakers every day.

  • Throwing away one aluminum can wastes as much energy as if that can were 1/2 full of gasoline.

  • In the U.S., an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated during the holidays. Four million tons of this is wrapping paper and shopping bags.

  • Americans receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail every year. Most of it winds up in landfills.

  • Americans toss out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times.

  • The average American office worker goes through around 500 disposable cups every year.

  • Nearly 44 million American workers purchase or eat lunch out every weekday.

  • As of 1992, 14 billion pounds of trash were dumped into ocean annually around the world.

  • Forty-three thousand tons of food is thrown out in the United States each day.

  • Sixty-five billion aluminum soda cans are used each year.


Landfills and Waste (Clean Air Council -

  • Landfills continue to dwindle in number. In 1979, there were an estimated 18,500 landfills in the nation. In 1988, there were 8000 landfills, in 2005 there were 1654. (EPA figures)

  • Seventy percent of U.S. municipal solid waste gets buried in landfills.

  • 108,234 tons of waste per day is incinerated.

  • Each American exerts three times as much pressure on the natural environment as the global average.

America is home to 5% of the world's population, yet it consumes 1/3 of the Earth's timber and paper; making paper the largest part of the waste stream at 37.5% of the total waste stream.

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"I'm grateful for the opportunity to live on this beautiful and astonishing planet Earth. In the morning, I wake up with a sense of gratitude."

- Earl Nightingale


© Recyclaholics 2008