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EPA: Every American, Business and Community Can Play a Role in Increasing Rate of Recycling

Release Date: 11/14/2014
Contact Information: Enesta Jones,, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – In advance of America Recycles Day, on November 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls on communities, businesses, and individuals to leave the next generation a cleaner, safer and more stable world. The simple act of recycling reduces our country’s energy consumption, decreases our greenhouse gas emissions, and conserves our natural resources. This year, on America Recycles Day, we celebrate all who do their part to build a more prosperous and sustainable future by raising the national recycling rate and instilling this responsibility in our youngest Americans.

“As a nation, we have made tremendous progress in turning waste back into valuable resources through recycling, but we can do more,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response in remarks delivered at the Southeast Recycling Development Council Summit on November 12, 2014. “By increasing recycling, and reducing contamination in the recycling stream, we can provide the valuable resources essential to a growing manufacturing sector.”

Every American, every business, and every community can play a role in increasing the rate of recycling. Individuals can compost their food waste, donate items that are no longer needed, buy products that use less packaging and purchase items manufactured using recycled materials. Businesses can make a difference by looking for opportunities to reduce waste, recycle more onsite, and design their products to be recyclable after use. Packaging, for example, makes up nearly a third of the trash thrown away, so even small changes to reduce packaging waste or using materials that can be readily recycled can add up to a big win for the environment.

In small towns and big cities recycling programs are making a difference, with state and local governments continuing to do their part to promote these programs. Keys to their success include collecting a wide range of recyclable materials, funding their recycling infrastructure and making recycling convenient. Consumers make a difference by recycling more of their trash and following their community’s recycling guidelines about what and how to recycle. These actions lower the cost of recycling and produce higher quality recycled materials for manufacturing.

Americans generate approximately 250 million tons of municipal solid waste every year and currently recycle around 35 percent of their trash. Recycling conserves vital resources, saves energy, and, in 2012, reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road for a year. Recycling also creates green jobs and provides essential resources. More of this trash - from our homes, workplaces and classrooms - could be recycled or reused. Many leading cities, both large and small, have achieved much higher rates of recycling.

The actions we take now will influence the world we pass on to the next generation. All Americans can do their part to increase the recycling rate by avoiding recycling stream contamination, following local guidelines on what should and should not go into the recycling bin, participating in additional recycling opportunities such as composting and recycling beyond the bin. Take the time to learn what can be recycled at home, work, school, and in your community.

To learn:

To view President Obama’s proclamation: