The US lags behind other developed nations when it comes to recycling municipal solid waste. In fact, it is the only developed nation with waste generation that outstrips its ability to recycle, according to a study by research firm Verisk Maplecroft.
The US has the highest waste per head of population, with Americans producing three times more waste than the global average.
While the US accounts for only 4% of the world’s population, it produces 12% of the world’s total municipal solid waste. In comparison, China and India account for over 36% of the world’s population and produce 27% of the world’s waste.
But not only does the US just produce more garbage than its high income peers, it also and recycles far less of it.
According to the analysis, the US only recycles 35% of its solid waste. In comparison, Germany, the most efficient country, recycles 68%.
“Where the US is doing badly is the relationship between what it generates and its capacity to recycle,” said Niall Smith, one of the authors of the report.
“And relative to it’s high income peers, that’s where it is performing poorly.”
The firm’s senior environmental analyst Niall Smith said: “There’s too much focus on recycling being the kind of silver bullet solution, which it is not.”
He added: “We have enough plastic in circulation to really cause disruption of marine food webs, which is already in process. I think what we need to be working towards is almost a zero-material-footprint kind of society.”