Recycling StatisticsElectronics Recycling vs. Disposal

Of the 2.25 million tons of TVs, cell phones and computer products ready for end-of-life (EOL) management, 18% (414,000 tons) was collected for recycling and 82% (1.84 million tons) was disposed of, primarily in landfills.

From 1999 through 2005, recycling rate was relatively constant at about 15%. During these years, the amount of electronics recycled increased but the percentage did not because the amount of electronics sent for end of life management increased each year as well.

For 2006-2007, the recycling rate increased to 18%, possibly because several states have started mandatory collection and recycling programs for electronics.

According to the EPA:

Metal Recycling

In 2007 the United States recycled 72 million metric tons of metals or about 52 percent of the supply of metal.  The United States exported 23.1 Mt of scrap and imported 5.4 Mt of scrap metal.

Paper Recycling

The United States recovered 51.8 million tons of paper in 2008. Of this total, 57.4% of the paper was consumed in the U.S. 20.1million tons of recovered paper was exported in 2008, including 2.8 million tons of printed news, 6.3 million tons of corrugated cardboard, 7.2 million tons of mixed paper, 600,000 tons of hi-grade paper, 1.3 million tons of pulp subs, and 1.7 million tons of other forms of recovered paper.

Plastic Recycling

Plastic Bottle Pounds Collected for Recycling in the United States

  • The total pounds of plastic bottles recycled reached a record high 2,410 million pounds.
  • The total plastic bottle recycling rate was 27.0%, up from 24.4% in 2007.
  • The total pounds of plastic bottles collected increased by 75 million pounds for 2008 over 2007.
  • The annual increase in pounds of plastic bottles recycled was 3.2%.
  • The 19 year compounded annual growth rate for plastic bottle recycling is 9%.
  • PET bottles collected increased by 55 million pounds.
  • HDPE bottles collected rose by 16.1 million pounds to 936.7 million pounds, reflecting vigorous collection in the first three quarters of the year.