What is the Trash Problem?

People in the US throw away billions of pounds of trash every year—and spend billions of dollars to do it. The cost of dealing with all this trash is rising much faster than the rate of inflation, creating a financial burden for cities and towns across the country.

Trash and Landfills 2015 Cost of Trash 2015

Environmental Damage

Every year, we throw away enormous amounts of recyclable materials:


In one year, capturing and reusing all recyclable materials would:

Costs and Economic Damage

Trash costs the US economy a staggering $384 billion each year: $200 billion in expenses that could be avoided by cutting waste and $184 billion in lost revenue and economic development.

Wouldn’t this money be better spent on things like schools, parks, roads, and public safety, rather than simply throwing it away?



Notes:  Data on specific materials discarded annually in the US residential and commercial waste stream derived from Advancing Sustainable Materials Management:  Facts and Figures 2013, US EPA, June 2015; Conversions to trees, barrels of oil, and cans use a calculator provided by Waste Management, Inc. on its corporate website;  Estimated energy savings from diversion of waste calculated using the EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM).