State’s recycling rate sets record, surpasses 50 percent
December 18, 2012
NEW — 12:30 p.m. Dec. 18, 2012
The statewide recycling rate reached the highest level ever recorded and surpassed 50 percent last year, according data released Tuesday by the state Department of Ecology.
The announcement marked the first time the statewide recycling rate topped the 50 percent goal set in a 1989 state law. The national average recycling rate reached 34 percent in 2010, according to the latest available data.
State officials said Washington residents continue to recycle more and throw away less. The statewide recycling rate for 2011 reached 50.7 percent.
The amount of municipal waste recycled by state residents increased by more than 186,000 tons in 2011 — up 4 percent from 2010 — or 3.64 pounds per person per day collected for recycling. The figure is the highest ever measured in Washington since the Department of Ecology started measuring recycling in 1986.
The total amount of waste tossed out by households and businesses decreased through the recession, and the trend continued in 2011. Disposal dropped by about 170,000 tons, or 4 percent, last year. Residents threw away 3.54 pounds of waste per person per day in landfills, the lowest amount in 24 years.
“Reducing and recycling waste have economic, environmental and public health benefits for our state’s residents,” Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant said in a statement said. “It protects our water and reduces our exposure to toxic chemicals, which lowers health risks. And it can build a clean, green economy for Washington’s future.”
The amount of waste diverted from landfill disposal for other uses — including recycling, energy recovery and reuse — increased from 54.3 percent in 2010 to 57.2 percent in 2011, in large part because the state disposed of less construction- and demolition-related materials in landfills.
Recycling rates increased for cardboard, newspaper, metals and electronics. Metals — such as ferrous, nonferrous and steel cans — accounted for more than half of the increase in recycling. But waste handlers collected less wood for recycling than in previous years.