Washington state’s recycling rate reached 50.1 percent in 2012, according to data reported today by the Washington Department of Ecology.
This was the second year in a row that the rate exceeded the 50 percent goal set by a 1989 Washington law. The national average was 34.7 percent in 2011.
The total amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) recycled by state residents went down by nearly 90,000 tons in 2012, or about 2 percent from the previous year, while the amount of MSW disposed increased by almost 20,000 tons. This resulted in a slight drop in the recycling rate, falling from the high of 50.7 percent in 2011.
Recycling in Washington continues to provide important environmental benefits. In 2012, recycling materials instead of sending them to landfills helped us avoid emitting 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Also, recycling saved enough energy to power 1.1 million homes for a year (nearly half the households in Washington).
Washington residents recycled over 4.4 million tons of material in 2012, equal to 3.5 pounds recycled per person per day. Glass, gypsum, and organic materials, including food and yard debris, showed the biggest increases in recycling. Metals and newspaper had the biggest declines.