1 February 2016

Con: The US remains the most wasteful nation on Earth: We need more recycling, not less

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, “Are America’s recycling programs too costly and ineffectual? Should we scrap them?”

GazetteXtra 01 February 2016: We Americans consume a lot and waste a lot. That means we dump far more trash than is necessary into landfills. In fact, we produce twice as much waste per capita as Western European nations.

The amount of municipal solid waste produced annually in the United States has tripled since 1960. In 2013, it totaled 254 million tons. That's 4.4 pounds per person every day.

We've made a lot of progress through the years in how we handle waste. Recycling jumped dramatically nationwide after the mid-1980s, but it leveled off around 2010, with the average American recycling or composting 34 percent of his waste.

The rate varies by the type of waste, and by state and city. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that we recycle 99 percent of lead acid batteries, 67 percent of paper, and 55 percent of aluminum cans, but only 40 percent of the...read on.