Eco-Living Magazine

Recycling Rate Surpasses Waste in Washington

Posted on the 24 December 2012 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Recycle BinThe Evergreen State just got a little greener.  According to the Washington State Department of Ecology,  Washington’s recycling rate reached 50.7 percent in 2011.  It is the first time that the state has reported a recycling rate of more than 50 percent, achieving a goal originally set by the state government in 1989, and far surpasses the national U.S. average recycling rate of 34 percent in 2010.

Ecology’s press statement noted that the amount of municipal waste recycled rose by more than 186,000 tons last year, an increase of 4 percent from 2010 and equivalent to 3.64 pounds of recycled waste per person per day.  In contrast, total municipal waste not recycled fell by 170,000 tons, meaning that state citizens discarded about 3.54 pounds of waste per person daily.

Statistics cited by Ecology also highlighted how the benefits of recycling are not limited to reducing material waste, but also to promoting energy conservation and reducing the carbon footprint.  Ecology estimated that statewide recycling, by diverting waste that would otherwise have been transported by truck or rail to landfills, helped prevent the emission of 3.2 million tons of greenhouse gases.  It also estimated that 139 British thermal units (BTUs) of energy, or about 1.1 billion gallons of gasoline, were conserved through recycling.

While its recycling rates are well above the U.S. national average, Washington still has a ways to go compared with other states.  In particular, California’s state recycling agency reported a waste diversion rate in 2011 of 65 percent, and a beverage container recycling rate of 82 percent.  California has also announced a target 75 percent recycling rate by 2020–a worthy goal for Washington to aim for as well.

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