blog: Too much trash – part 2 |

blog: Too much trash – part 2

Pallavi Mukerjee
Vail CO, Colorado


A Recap: Last week we talked about the increase in the quantity of waste generated in the U.S. and the state of Colorado. Today we will compare the US generation of waste with other countries and the things that make up our garbage.

Comparison of US Waste Generation with other Countries: I was very curious to research and see how the solid waste generation rate in U.S. compared with other countries. Here is a table with some facts (current as of October 23rd 2006).

– Maximum Waste Generation-

1. United States- Each person generates an average of 4.5 pounds of waste per day

2. Canada- Each person generates an average of 3.75 pounds of waste per day

3. Netherlands- Each person generates an average of 3.75 pounds of waste per day

– Minimum Waste Generation- Germany and Sweden generate the least amount of waste per capita for industrialized nations, with just under 2 pounds per person per day.

The Silver Lining: It is pretty alarming to realize that we lead the world in waste generation. However, there is a silver lining behind the cloud. “The United States, leads the industrialized world in recycling as well. The United States recycled 24 percent of its waste in 1995, (the most recent year for which comparative international data is available).

Switzerland and Japan came in second and third, recycling 23 percent and 20 percent of their discard stream, respectively”- EPA. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has a lot of interesting information on international waste management issues. The link to their website is:

What Makes Up Our Garbage: Trash, refers to everyday items that are used and discarded. Some examples are food scraps, newspaper, cardboard, packaging, grass, leaves, furniture, appliances, etc.

This pie chart demonstrates how much percent of each of the following waste was disposed of in the year 2005.

(Source: EPA home page- updated on 06.01.2007)

Since the pie chart may be difficult to read in the blog, here is a breakdown of the components of the waste stream.


Paper- 34.2% Rubber, leather and Textiles-7.3%

Yard Trimmings- 13.1% Glass- 5.2%

Food Scraps- 11.7% Wood- 5.7%

Plastics- 11.9% Other- 3.4%

Hope for the Future: Proper waste management and reduction of waste can ensure a better future and a stronger economy. Next week we will talk about the necessity of ‘proper waste management’………

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