Washington State Department of Ecology - December 10, 2013


State's recycling rate remains above 50 percent

OLYMPIA – Washington state’s recycling rate reached 50.1 percent in 2012, according to data reported today by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology).

This was the second year in a row that the rate exceeded the 50 percent goal set by a 1989 Washington law. The national average was 34.7 percent in 2011.

The total amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) recycled by state residents went down by nearly 90,000 tons in 2012, or about 2 percent from the previous year, while the amount of MSW disposed increased by almost 20,000 tons. This resulted in a slight drop in the recycling rate, falling from the high of 50.7 percent in 2011.

Recycling in Washington continues to provide important environmental benefits. In 2012, recycling materials instead of sending them to landfills helped us avoid emitting 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Also, recycling saved enough energy to power 1.1 million homes for a year (nearly half the households in Washington).

Washington residents recycled over 4.4 million tons of material in 2012, equal to 3.5 pounds recycled per person per day. Glass, gypsum, and organic materials, including food and yard debris, showed the biggest increases in recycling. Metals and newspaper had the biggest declines.

"People in our state continue to be among the best when it comes to putting less in trash and more in the recycling bin," said Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources Program. "Per capita disposal numbers are at their lowest in 24 years while amounts of recycled and composted materials like electronics, food, and yard debris continue to rise."

The overall amount of waste diverted from landfills – which includes materials reused and burned for energy in addition to being recycled – decreased from 57.2 percent in 2011 to 54.7 percent in 2012. This was largely due to a drop in asphalt and concrete materials diverted and a decline in the amount of wood that was burned for energy.

"Collectively, there have been big improvements in the waste management system over the years," Davies said. “But we still throw away lots of recyclables and other resources. Wasting these resources is not sustainable over the long term. There is still work to do."

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Media Contacts:

 Kathy Davis, media relations, 360-407-6149, kathy.davis@ecy.wa.gov

 Dan Weston, Waste 2 Resources, 360-407-6409, daniel.weston@ecy.wa.gov

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For more information:

Solid Waste and Recycling Data (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/solidwastedata/)

Locations for recycling (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/recycle/UISearch/ServiceSearch.aspx)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)