Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is marking the 14th annual America Recycles Day by recognizing progress made in recycling our country’s waste. EPA estimates that the U.S. generated 250 million tons of municipal waste in 2010, of which approximately 34% was recycled or composted.
While this is progress, environmentalists maintain that there is greater opportunity to use natural resources that are still disposed of in landfills. They assert, with good reason, that recycling and other “sustainable” management practices protect the environment and strengthen the economy.
The U.S. disposes enough waste each day to fill 50,000 garbage trucks with 18,000 pounds of trash in each. The auto industry with its market based predisposition to cutting costs is well on its way to achieving 100% recycling in the U.S.
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“Conserving our natural resources is a critical part of ensuring a strong economic and environmental future,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
So called sustainable materials management studies the life cycle of materials and products to identify opportunities to consume fewer natural resources, decrease the waste going to landfills, and create economic opportunities. There are a wide variety of sustainable materials management practices, including designing products that use fewer toxic elements, reusing products, composting organic materials and recycling.
Last July, a federal task force led by EPA, CEQ and GSA released a National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship – a strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling that will promote the burgeoning electronics recycling market.
Through the Federal Green Challenge, EPA has challenged other federal agencies to reduce their own environmental impact through more sustainable practices by pledging a reduction goal of at least 5% per year in two of six focus areas: waste, electronics, purchasing, energy, water and transportation.
- More information on America Recycles Day: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/rrr/ard.htm
- More information on EPA’s 2010 Municipal Solid Waste Report: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/municipal/msw99.htm
- More information about the Federal Green Challenge: http://www.epa.gov/fgc/