Alabama's Recycling Economy

​During 2011, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) determined that Alabama spent $25 million to throw away over $193 million worth of recyclable materials.

According to the Alabama Solid Waste Management Plan of 2008, the total average daily solid waste generated by Alabamians is 9.9pounds per person, compared with the national average of 4.5 pounds. In 2010, the EPA MSW Characterization Study Report stated the total average daily solid waste generated by Alabamians is 6.3 pounds per person, compared with the national average of 4.3 pounds per person.

A 2010 Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) study determined that Alabama is home to more than 26 manufacturers who rely on recycled content feedstock. These companies generate more than $6.6 billion in yearly sales and employ more than 10,700 Alabama citizens directly working in the manufacture of recycled content products.

With more than 300 employees, KW Plastics in Troy, Alabama is the world's largest recycler of HDPE and PP plastic resins. Currently, KW receives enough plastic from Alabama to run the plant for only two days out of every year. Source: KW Plastics.

The Barton, Alabama SCA Tissue Plant recycles roughly 250,000 tons of paper per year. This is equivalent to almost 3% of the state's waste generation. Source: SCA Tissue/State of Alabama.

If Alabama recycled just 10% more materials each year, the potential economic impact would equate to over 1,400 jobs, over $66 million annual personal income, and $3 million annual state tax revenue. Source: SERDC.

Landfills generate revenue by imposing "tipping fees" when waste is placed in a facility. These fees average about $25/ton in Alabama. The national average is $45/ton, whereas some states, such as Vermont, charge upwards to $72/ton. Source: State of Garbage in America.

US Waste

Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic beverage bottles every hour.

The United States of America is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.

Americans toss out enough aluminum every 3 months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.

The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2 billion trees per year.

Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. 

Manufacturers produce more than 15 million tons of expanded polystyrene (aka, StyrofoamTM) each year, but we recycle less than 1% of it.

According to the EPA, yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.

The highest point in Hamilton County, Ohio (near Cincinnati) is "Mount Rumpke." It is actually a mountain of trash at the Rumpke sanitary landfill towering 1045 ft. above sea level.

The US population discards each year 16 billion diapers, 1.6 billion pens, 2 billion razor blades, and 220 million car tires each year.

Recycling & Energy

Recycling aluminum requires 95% less energy than making aluminum from raw materials, and produces 95% less air pollution and 97% less water pollution.

Only 10% of the 140.3 million cell phones retired in 2007 were recycled. If we recycled all of the cell phones retired each year, we would save enough energy to power 18,500 homes for a year. 

Recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power 3,657 American homes in a year.

Recycling paper takes 60% less energy than making paper form raw materials.  

Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.

Recycling plastic takes 88% less energy than making plastic from raw materials. 

The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.