Recycling Stats

Food for Thought:

The average person generates 4.5 pounds of trash every day – about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. Although the EPA estimates that 75 percent of solid waste is recyclable, only about 30 percent is actually recycled.

  • Did you know that we generate 21.5 million tons of food residuals annually? If this food waste were composted instead of being sent to landfills, the resulting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking more than two million cars off the road.
  • The Z-Best Composting Facility in Gilroy, processes 350 tons of food waste and yard clippings everyday into nutrient rich soil amendments to be used for agriculture and landscaping.
  • Almost any business can successfully divert food discards from landfills. Businesses with record-setting food diversion programs are recovering 50% to 100% of their food discards and reducing their overall solid waste by 33% to 85%.

Construction and Demolition

  • According to the National Association of Home Builders, a typical 2,200 sq.ft. home requires 13,000 board feet of framing lumber.
  • If laid end to end, that framing lumber would stretch 2.5 miles.
  • If all the dimensional lumber used to build the 1.2 million new homes constructed in the United State each year were laid end to end, it would extend 3 million miles, the equivalent of going to the moon and back six and a half times.
  • Home construction, remodeling and demolition projects are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the nation’s annual municipal solid waste.
  • The Zanker landfill’s recycling facility processes demolition debris materials at the rate of 135 tons per hour.
  • The processed and sorted materials we recover are sold to a diversity of markets for use in a range of products made with recovered materials.
  • Many sorted materials are directed into products that are recycled multiple times, producing the conservation benefits and savings many times over. This is true "diversion" — materials moving many steps away from the landfill by being able to be repeatedly recycled.

Bottles and Cans

  • In 2004, 55 billion aluminum cans were landfilled, littered or incinerated, that’s 9 billion more than were wasted in 2000. This is enough cans to fill the Empire State Building twenty times. It is also a quantity equivalent to the annual production of three to four major primary aluminum smelters.
  • Because so many of them are recycled, aluminum cans account for less than 1% of the total U.S. waste stream, even so, the energy required to replace the just the aluminum cans wasted in 2001 was equivalent to 16 million barrels of crude oil, enough to meet the electricity needs of all homes in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco and Seattle.
  • During the time it takes you to read this sentence, 50,000 more 12-ounce aluminum cans are made. Let’s recycle them.
  • Although recycling is the most common method of plastic waste pollution prevention, less than one percent of all plastics products are recycled in the U.S. Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic beverage bottles every hour!


  • Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save:
    • 3.5 cubic yards of landfill
    • 17 thirty foot (pulp) trees
    • 7,000 gallons of water
    • 380 gallons of oil
    • 4100 kwh of energy

    And, at the same time eliminate 60 pounds of air pollutants

  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.