Recycling Facts: Interesting Statistics About Recycling That Will Shock You

recycling facts

Recycling is the solution to the ever-increasing pollution problem that our planet is facing. While the majority of us are willing to recycle, recycling facts show that less than a quarter of people are recycling. This is because people don’t know how to do it correctly.

With the right knowledge, over 75% of people could recycle their waste and make the world a better place to live in.

To better understand recycling here are 24 recycling facts:

General Recycling Facts & Statistics

1. There is a recycling crisis in the U.S. due to public confusion about recycling.

2. ​According to recent recycling statistics U.S. recycling levels are currently 21.4%.

3. One of the most interesting facts about recycling is that Americans throw away enough trash every year to circle the earth 24 times.

4. It costs less per ton to recycle trash ($30) than to send it to the landfill ($50) or to incinerate it ($75).

5. If the U.S. recycling levels would reach 75% it would be similar to removing 55 million cars from U.S. roads each year thus decreasing carbon dioxide levels drastically.

6. Statistics about recycling indicate that recycling creates 6 times more jobs than land-filling and 36 times more than incinerating.

7. Facts about recycling show that manufacturers truly want materials back to reuse in their manufacturing, but they aren’t able to reuse the materials if people don’t recycle right.

8. Recycling conserves fresh water up to 95% in the mining and manufacturing process for many materials.

9. The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it.

Recycling Plastic Bottles Facts

10. Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour. That’s the equivalent of about 35 billion plastic bottles trashed every year.

11. Going by recent recycling plastic bottles facts only 23% of disposable plastic bottles are recycled.

12. It takes over 500 years for a single plastic water bottle to fully decompose.

13. If you recycle one ton of plastic bottles you can save the equivalent energy usage of a two-person household for one year.

Facts About Recycling Plastic

14. One ton of recycled plastic saves 5,774 kWh of electricity, 1,000–2,000 gallons of gasoline, 685 gallons of oil, 98 million Btu’s of energy, and 30 cubic yards of landfill space.

15. You can only recycle the same piece of plastic about 2-3 times before its quality decreases to the point where it can no longer be used.

16. Plastic water bottles can be recycled into new bottles, home insulation materials, bin liners, carrier bags, duvet fillings, various items of clothing, DVD and video game cases, compost bins, park benches, and much more.

17. A single plastic bag takes up to 1,000 years to decompose.

18. Facts about recycling plastic reveal that it takes twice as much energy to burn plastic in an incinerator compared to recycling it.

Cardboard Recycling Facts

19. Recycling cardboard takes less energy than what is needed to make new cardboard.

20. Recycling 1 ton of cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil.

21. Cardboard recycling facts show that one ton of recycled cardboard saves 9 cubic yards of landfill space.

22. Over 90% of all products shipped in the US are shipped in corrugated boxes, which is more than 400 billion square feet of cardboard.

23. The U.S produces approximately 100 billion cardboard boxes each year.

Recycling facts don’t end there, we still have some more.

Why is Recycling Important?

Recycling helps in preventing all sorts of pollution including air, plastic, water and waste pollution. It also helps in preserving natural resources as it reduces the need for raw materials and uses less energy.

What Are Some Fun Facts about Recycling?

  • Recycling is a part of the waste disposal hierarchy – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Enough plastic bottles are tossed each year to circle the planet four times.
  • More than 900 million trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills.

How Much Recyclable Material Is Thrown Away?

About 80% of recyclable material is thrown out every year.

How Many People Recycle in the World?

Americans recycle 34 percent of all the waste they create. European countries lead in recycling efforts with Austria and Germany boasting the highest recycling rates at 63 and 62 percent, respectively.


These recycling facts are a representation of the current state of recycling around the world. We hope that they are an eye opener to why you should recycle more and in the right way!