The recycling rate has increased from less than 7% in 1960 to the current rate of 32%.

All of the recycling statistics on this page are up-to-date.

Keep reading to find new recycling stats and facts related to:

  • How many people recycle?
  • How much of recycling is actually recycled?
  • Which country recycles the most?
  • Which state recycles the most?
  • Worldwide recycling statistics
  • U.S. recycling statistics
  • U.K. recycling statistics
  • A whole lot more

Let’s see some stats!

Key Recycling Statistics and Trends:

  1. The recycling rate has increased from less than 7% in 1960 to the current rate of 32%.
  2. The municipal solid waste (MSW) recycling rate in the U.S. is 35%.
  3. Between 70% and 90% of all items that could be recycled in the United States end up in the landfill.
  4. 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been created, and almost 6.3 billion metric tons has ended up in the trash.
  5. The EPA estimates that nearly 75% of all waste is recyclable.
  6. Sweden shows what is possible with 99% of its waste not ending up in a landfill.
  7. Recycling one ton of aluminum cans could save the equivalent of about 35 barrels of oil.
  8. The Apex Regional Landfill in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the largest landfill in the world at 2,200 acres.
  9. There are over 2,600 MSW landfills in the United States.
  10. The production of major appliances consumed about 5.3 million tons of ferrous metals in the United States alone, and only about 3.1 million tons were recycled.

Worldwide Recycling Statistics

If you've ever wondered about the impact of recycling and whether it does any good, here are a few facts. These facts about recycling give you an overview of the impact, potential, and who is more likely to recycle. Let’s dive into these worldwide recycling stats.

Overview Of Recycling Statistics

Global Recycling Rate 32%
USA Recycling Rate 35%
Amount Of Plastic That Has Been Created 8.3 billion metric tons
Percent Of Waste That Is Recyclable 75%
Number Of MSW Landfills In The USA 2,600

How many people recycle?

The recycling rate has increased from less than 7% in 1960 to the current rate of 32%.

Also, the municipal solid waste (MSW) recycling rate in the U.S. is 35%.

How much of recycling actually gets recycled?

As of 2018, only 12.2% of the plastic generated was recycled in the US. That same year, the total recycling and composting rate was 32.1%. This means that 68% still ended up in the landfill.

how much of recycling actually gets recycled

This equals 69 million tons of waste that were recycled and 25 million tons of organic matter that was composted. In this, were 910,000 tons of PET bottles and 220,000 tons of HDPE bottles.

What percent of all solid waste in the world doesn’t get recycled?

It is estimated that 91% of all plastic waste has not been recycled.

Thus far, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been created, and almost 6.3 billion metric tons have ended up in the trash.

Percent of waste in the world that doesn’t get recycled

Only 9% of the plastic generated has been recycled. There is much room for improvement in this respect.

What percent of the world recycles?

It is not known the total percent of the world that recycles because data is not available for all countries. When it comes to recycling, Sweden is a country that is making headlines.

It has been claimed recently that Sweden recycles 99% of its waste. However, it must be noted that nearly 50% of it is Incinerated, but this incineration process is used to generate heat and electricity.

While critics have claimed that incineration is not the most efficient use of recyclable material, it still means that 99% of its waste does not end up in landfills. One of the main criticisms of incineration is the air pollution that it creates.

We know that Germany is the country with the second-highest recycling rate of any in the world at 66.1%. Singapore's recycling rate is at 60.6%, Wales is at 60.2%, South Korea is at 59.0%, and Austria is at 55.9%.

These are the top countries that recycle the most waste. The recycling rates of these countries are nearly double that of the United States.

What percent of the world’s waste is recyclable?

Statistics show that as much as 80% is recyclable. Regardless of which figures are closer to reality, the bottom line is that we throw away much more than what could potentially be recycled.

How much energy would the world save by recycling?

It takes much more energy and resources to produce new products compared to what it does to recycle them. A total estimate of what the world could save is not available.

Countries use different power consumption and have different means of generating it. To give you an idea of how much power could be saved, it only takes a few seconds to drop an aluminum can in the recycling bin.

However, it is estimated that this single aluminum can save enough energy to power an average television set for up to three hours. This is only one example of how small actions lead up to big results.

What are the leading countries for recycling?

Let’s take a look at the countries with the top recycling rates around the world, as reported by various sources.

  1. Sweden – 99%
  2. Germany – 66.1%
  3. Singapore – 60.6%
  4. Wales – 60.2%
  5. South Korea – 59%
  6. Austria – 55.9%
  7. Switzerland – 52%
  8. Australia – 49.7%
  9. Netherlands – 46%
  10. Norway – 40%
sweden recycling rate

Are men or women more likely to recycle?

Studies show that women are much more likely than men to show a concern for the environment and recycle.

Key Takeaway: We are not doing nearly as much as we could be to help solve the landfill problem. The United States recycles about half as much as other countries.

This attitude of continuing to produce more goods and throw them into a landfill is not sustainable. Energy consumption could be reduced significantly if everyone would just do a few simple acts of recycling in their daily routine.

U.S. Recycling Statistics

Now that we know a little about recycling globally, let’s see how recycling is in the United States. Perhaps we can find some ways to improve and save more energy in the future. Keep reading.

What percent of all solid waste in the U.S. doesn’t get recycled?

Statistics in the United States differ in terms of how much solid waste does not get recycled in the United States.

Some sources report that as much as 70% do not get recycled, while others say that this number is closer to 90%.

Recycling rates differ in various parts of the country and across different cities. This could account for the difference is in the statistics.

Regardless of whether the number is closer to 70 or 90% still paints the same picture. The United States is not doing as well as it could be when it comes to recycling.

What percent of America’s waste is recyclable?

Estimates are that between 75% and 80% of all of America’s waste is recyclable, but we only recycle between 10-30% of it.

75 percent of waste is recyclable

This means that there is much room for improvement in this area, especially when you compare the recycling rates of the United States to other countries of the world.

How much energy would America save by recycling?

We have already found out fat recycling just one aluminum can power a TV for about 3 hours. recycling a single plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a 100-watt lightbulb for about four hours.

That is not all. it creates about 20% less air pollution, and it creates about 50% less water pollution than making a new bottle.

Recycling plastic bottles take about twice as much energy as it takes to incinerate them. If everyone did just a little bit every day, it would add up to big results in the way of reducing air pollution, water pollution, and saving energy.

How many tons of recyclable items make their way into landfills each year?

Between 70% and 90% of all items that could be recycled in the United States end up in the landfill. Those numbers include over 11 million tons of recyclable clothing, shoes, and textiles.

how many items in the usa end up in the landfill

That does not even include electronics, plastics, glass, and other goods that could be recycled. Our love of fast fashion is filling up the landfills at an incredible rate.

What are the leading cities for recycling in the U.S?

The top cities for recycling in the United States are:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Boston
  3. Chicago
  4. Denver
  5. Portland

What are the worst cities for recycling in the U.S?

America’s worst cities for recycling are:

  1. Oklahoma City
  2. Indianapolis
  3. San Antonio
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Houston

How many plastic bottles do we throw away every hour in the U.S?

In the United States, we throw away a staggering 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. That is about 42,000 per minute and 695 every single second.

Each of these bottles takes about twice as much energy to produce as it does to recycle. These numbers should be a wake-up call to think twice before you put that plastic bottle in the non-recyclable bin.

What are the biggest contributors to soil pollution?

Landfills are among the biggest contributors to soil pollution, and the pollutants in soils leach out and eventually end up in our food. Estimates differ, but it is believed that close to 80% to 90% of end up in landfill could be recycled.

Key Takeaway: The United States is not doing its part to help with the global landfill problem. Every time we throw something away that ends up in the landfill instead of recycling, we are adding to the problems of soil pollution, air pollution, and water pollution.

If we would just change a few small habits, we could make a big difference and leave future generations a much nicer place to live.

U.K. Recycling Statistics

Now, it's time to look at how the U.K is doing when it comes to recycling. This gives the United States an excellent comparison to see how they stack up. Both are developed nations and have an arguably similar lifestyle, so how is recycling in the U.K? Keep reading to find out.

What percent of all solid waste in the U.K. doesn’t get recycled?

When it comes to the recycling rate, the U.K. does slightly better than the United States. It has a 45.7%, which means that 54.3% does not get recycled and ends up in the landfill.

The U.K. country, Wales, had the highest recycling rate at 57.6%. England had a recycling rate of 45.2%, and Scotland had a rate of 43.5%. The EU has a target rate of recycling at least 50% of all waste from households by the year 2020.

As of 2017, Wales was the only U.K. country to reach that goal. Although the U.K. did not reach its goal, it is still much better than the United States that only recycles between 10 and 30% of its waste.

What percent of the U.K’s waste is recyclable?

Studies in the U.K. estimate that more than 50% of what people put into the waste could be recycled or composted.

However, the U.K. has a similar lifestyle to the United States, and it is estimated that between 75 and 80% of what sends up in the landfill could be composted, so there is no indication as to why the U.K. number is lower than that of the United States.

What percent of U.K. citizens recycle?

Statistics could not be found as to what percent of U.K. citizens actually recycle, but a recent survey found that 58% of Brits said they were very likely to use a deposit scheme if it were set up. Only 10% said that they were unlikely to use such a system.

Glass bottles and plastic bottles were among the items that Brits were more likely to recycle. They were not likely to return lower payback items like cotton.

How much energy would the U.K. save by recycling?

Considering that the lifestyle in the U.K. is similar to the United States, the result on the potential savings were similar, but there are some major differences in the way the U.K. produces and uses electricity that also makes a difference in this comparison.

It is estimated that recycling one ton of aluminum cans could save about 207 million BTUs of electricity. This is the equivalent of about 1,500 US gallons of gasoline or 35 barrels of oil.

recycling positive effects

Key Takeaway: The U.K. does slightly better than the United States when it comes to recycling, but there is still much room for improvement.

It seems like the biggest challenge to increasing the rate of recycling in the U.K. is setting up a deposit system where people feel that they are getting something back for their efforts.

Landfill Statistics

Everyone knows about the landfill problem going on in the world. How much actually goes into landfills? What impact does it have on the planet? Read on to find the answers.

How much waste goes into landfills each year?

Every year, approximately 2.12 billion tons always goes into the landfill on a global basis.

If that same amount of garbage were put on trucks, the caravan of trucks would circle the globe 24 times.

What percent of the earth is landfills?

It seems that no one has actually taken the time to count what percent of the earth is consumed by landfills.

One thing that would make this difficult is that regulations in different countries are more lenient, and there are probably many uncounted landfills in certain countries. We can estimate the impact of the problem using a few facts.

The average landfill size in the world is about 600 acres. Keep in mind that landfills range from about 250 acres to over 2,000 acres.

We are just going for a rough estimate here. In the United States alone, there are over 2,000 landfills. Using the average 600-acre estimate, that is over 1,200,000 acres taken up by landfills in the United States alone.

How much waste is in landfills?

Earlier, we said that there were over 2 billion tons of waste in landfills globally. it is also estimated that there is 294 million tons of organic waste being sent to landfills, and this continues to increase.

This comes to 1,871 pounds per year per person. In October of 2013, the Puente Hills landfill received over 130 million tons of Los Angeles’ is waste alone.

Where is the largest landfill in the world?

The Apex Regional Landfill in Las Vegas, Nevada is the largest in the world at 2,200 Acres.

largest landfill in the usa

How much of America’s waste goes to landfill?

In the United states the recycling rate is around 34.5%.

Over 11 million tons of clothing waste makes their way into the landfills every year, and this does not include the electronics, glass, plastic, rubber, and other items that could be recycled.

Estimates on the total number of waste could not be found, but if you Add all of these items together, they paint a bleak picture.

How much of the U.K’s waste goes to landfill?

Ever to encourage recycling are paying off in the U.K.. The amount of waste going to landfills dropped from 7.2 million tons in 2018 to around 6.6 million tons in 2019.

How much of Australia’s waste goes to landfills?

Australia generated 75.8 million tons of waste between 2018 and 2019, which was 10% increase over 2016 and 2017 figures.

How many landfills are in the U.S?

There are over 2,600 MSW landfills in the United States.

how many landfills are in the united states

Key Takeaway: While many countries are reducing their amount of waste, it is not the case in every continent or nation in the world.

The amount of waste produced on a global basis is staggering, and it is especially alarming because most of it could be recycled.

Random Recycling Facts

The last four chapters gave you an overview of how big the landfill problem is and the impact that recycling can have on it. Let’s explore a few more facts about recycling that might make you think twice before you throw that plastic bottle into the trash bin.

How does recycling help the environment for kids?

If we want to help the environment, we must educate them on the importance of recycling and energy reduction.

Here are some of the ways that these environmental practices can help create a brighter future.

  • Conserves natural resources
  • Saves energy
  • Protects the environment
  • Protects plant and animal life
  • Reduces pollutants that cause disease

How can I make money recycling?

There are many ways that you can make money recycling. You can recycle your bottles at a recycling center for cash.

Many stores will also give you credit for recycling your old ink cartridges. You can also recycle scrap metal for cash.

Recycling used electronics makes some people a considerable amount of money per month.

How does recycling save money?

Many businesses are incorporating recycling into their operations. You can do this on a household level too.

Recycling means that you can get a little bit of cashback just for saving your waste and taking it to a recycling center for money.

Another way that recycling saves money is that it cuts down on the money spent on trash and rubbish haulers.

How many bottles get washed out correctly for recycling?

It is not known how many wash out bottles correctly, but there are many reasons why you should do it. The first is sanitation.

By the time the food or liquid sits in the bottle, it can grow mold and bacteria that can be harmful to recycling center workers.

Another reason is that it takes up to 30% more energy to wash out a bottle that has dried on organic materials than it does to wash it out as soon as it is finished being used.

How many animals die because people don’t recycle?

Ocean trash that involves plastics is responsible for 80% of the negative effects on ocean animals. Over 100,000 marine animals die every year becoming entangled in plastic and consuming it.

How does recycling preserve natural resources?

Every time we reuse our natural resources instead of producing new ones, we conserve them for later use. This means that we have to cut down she were trees, mine fewer minerals and use less water.

How many appliances do people recycle?

The production of major appliances consumed about 5.3 million tons of ferrous metals in the United States alone. Only about 3.1 million tons were recycled.

3.1 million tons of appliances are recycled

How many people do not recycle?

In 1960, the recycling rate was about 7%, which means 93% of people did not recycle. Today, since the recycling rate is around 32%, that means 68% of people do not recycle.

How many years does it take for plastic water bottles to fully decompose?

It is believed to take around 500 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose, but some think it is more like 1,000 years.

Key Takeaway: To solve the environmental issues that we face, we need to educate future generations. We also need to step up our effort and increase recycling, and it begins in our own homes. We are the only ones who can solve this crisis.


This is it for my list of recycling statistics around the world. 

I enjoyed exploring the impact that everyone can have on resolving the landfill issue and doing something good for the planet. 

If you have any questions, you can email us at and we will be happy to help.

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