Recycling Facts

Recycling Facts


  • Missouri’s recycling industry employs 28,026 workers.
  • Recycling produces annual sales of $5,122,436,000 in the state of Missouri.
  • Recycling produces an annual payroll of $707,307,000 in the state of Missouri.
    (Truman School School of Journalism, 2005)
  • Export sales of recycled goods generated $265,000,000 in 2009. This was a 300% increase since 2004.
    (Department of Economic Development, 2010)
  • The Missouri State Government saves over $700,000 on waste hauling servies due to recycling.
    (MO State Recycling Program, 2007-2009)
  • Recycling contract revenues generated $7,500,000.
  • Over 575 full time jobs are created through recycling in sheltered workshops.
    (DESE-Sheltered Workshop, 2010)
  • There are 1,228 firms in the state of Missouri directly involved with remanufacturing and reuse.
    (EIERA, 2010)


  • Missourians generate 6.15 pounds of waste daily. That’s 37 % more than the national average of 4.5 pounds per day.
    (MORA, 2008)

Solid Waste & Landfills

  • According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2006-2007 Waste Composition Study, nearly 45% of the municipal solid waste deposited in Missouri landfills could be recycled, including metals, paper, plastics and glass.
    Each year, more than 1.9 million tons of recyclable materials are disposed of in landfills.
  • If all recyclable materials were recycled instead of landfilled, the value of those materials would be approximately $208 million dollars.
    (MODNR, 2006-2007)


  • Electronic equipment that is thrown away (known as e-scrap or e-waste) is the fastest growing type of waste in the U.S.
  • In 2006, over 100 million cell phones were thrown away and 163,420 TVs and computers became obsolete every day.
  • Even though old electronics only account for a small amount (1 to 2 %) of the municipal waste stream, that percentage is expected to grow dramatically in the next few years.
    (MORA, 2008)


  • Paper makes up 40% of our daily trash.
  • Each person in America uses about 700 pounds of paper a year.
    (Abitibi-Bowater, 2008)
  • In 2005, 51.5% of paper consumed in the U.S. (51.3 million tons) was recovered for recycling.
  • Paper recovery now averages 346 pounds annually for each, man, woman and child in the United States.
    (American Forest and Paper Association, 2005)
  • Only about 80% of all recovered paper can actually be recycled.
  • Of recovered paper, 20% is trash including plastic, adhesives, paper clips and staples, ink, clay coatings and other non-paper items.
    (American Forest and Paper Association)
  • Enough paper is collected for recycling each year to equal a boxcar train 7,600 miles long.
  • Everyday, Americans buy 62 million newspapers and throw out 44 million.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • One ton of recycled paper uses 64% less energy, 50% less water, produces 74% less air pollution and creates 5 times more jobs than one ton of paper products from virgin wood pulp.
  • De-inked paper fiber is the most efficient source of fiber for the manufacturing of new paper products. Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 4,100 kilowatts of energy, and 7,000 gallons of water.
  • When you recycle one ton of paper, air pollution is decreased by 60 pouunds compared to traditional virgin fiber processes!
    (MORA, 2008)


  • Steel is America’s most recycled material.
    (Steel Recycling Institute)
  • Steel’s magnetic qualities make it easy to pull from the waste stream, saving energy.
  • Steel cans account for about 1.5 % of municipal solid waste (MSW) by weight and a slightly higher proportion (about 1.8 %) by volume.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • Individual consumers are the source of most steel cans found in MSW.
  • Less than 15% of commercial and industrial wastes are comprised of steel cans.
  • Nationwide, 54.4% of all steel cans are recycled.
  • Steelmakers recycle more than 68% of the steel they produce because they rely on scrap steel to produce a high-quality end product.
  • The amount of steel, (by weight) recycled annually in the U.S. equals about 1/3 the amount of MSW landfilled each year.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • Americans use about 100 million steel cans every day.
  • The U.S. food industry uses about 28 billion steel cans each year to package more than 1,500 food products.
    94% of steel cans are used to package a variety of food products, including fruits, vegetables, soups, meats, juice, pet food, coffee, and cookies.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • American-made steel cans contain about 25% recycled steel.
  • Recycling one ton of steel saves mining 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 pounds of coal and 40 pounds of limestone.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • The energy conserved by recycling one pound of steel cans is enough to light a 60 watt light bulb for more than one day.
  • Aluminum cans are recycled today at an impressive 62.5 % rate. This is four times the rate it was 25 years ago.
  • Over 80 billion aluminum soda cans are used every year, half of which are currently recycled.
  • In America, 1,500 cans are recycled each second!
  • Remanufacturing cans from recycled aluminum cuts related air pollution by 95% compared to making them from raw materials.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • Since 1972, 594 billion aluminum cans have been recycled. Lined up, those cans would stretch to the moon and back again 190 times.
  • The aluminum beverage can returns to the grocery shelf as a new, filled can in as little as 60 days after being recycled.
  • In theory, a consumer could purchase basically the same recycled aluminum can from the grocer’s shelf about six times per year.
  • An average aluminum beverage can in the U.S. contains about 51% post-consumer recycled content.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • Aluminum cans are lighter than cans of several years ago. In 1972, there were 22 cans per pound. Today, it takes just over 33 cans to equal one pound of aluminum.
  • Last year 54 billion cans were recycled saving energy equivalent to 15 million barrels of crude oil.
    (MORA, 2008)


  • The system of coding plastics with the ‘chasing arrows’ was developed in 1988 and is voluntary for plastic manufacturers.
  • PET or #1 plastics is the most recycled plastic worldwide.
  • PET bottles are recycled into polyester carpeting, textiles, car parts, new PET plastic bottles, pallet strapping and thermoformed sheet products.
  • 1.272 billion pounds of PET was recycled in the United States in 2006.
  • One domestic automotive manufacturer uses the equivalent of 50 million PET bottles annually to make components of new cars and trucks.
    (MORA, 2008, Central Paper Stock)
  • New vehicle parts made from recycled PET include grills, bumpers, trunk liners, fan shrouds, wheel liners and seats.
  • Recycled PET is also used in making new bottles for some types of consumer products, as well as in products ranging from basketball backboards to overhead transparencies.
  • It takes 36 2-liter PET bottles to make one square yard of polyester carpet.
    (MORA, 2008)
  • 28% of HDPE (or #2) bottles are recycled back into new bottles with recycled content. 17% are recycled into film products and15% into drainage pipe. Other uses include plastic pallets, plastic lumber and outdoor products.
  • A developing industry for HDPE is the manufacture of plastic lumber. While more expensive than wood, it is much more durable and has a longer product life. It also is not subject to rotting, insect damage, and splintering.
  • Milk, water and juice jugs comprise about 44% of HDPE containers, with about 37% used for cleaners, shampoos, and detergents. Injection molded tubs used for ice cream, margarine, and yogurt make up about 12% of HDPE container plastic use.
  • Despite being the same plastic, injection-molded containers are typically not compatible with recycling of blow-molded bottles and jugs.
    (MORA, 2008)


  • Glass containers go from the recycling bin to product on a store shelf in as little as 30 days!
  • Glass can be recycled again and again with no loss in quality or purity because it is 100% recyclable.
  • Glass does nt deteriorate or corrode.
  • The materials that make up glass- sand, soda ash and limestone (known as cullet) are heated to a temperature of 2600 to 28oo degrees F and then molded into a shape.
    (Strategic Materials, 2008)
  • Approximately 80% of glass containers recovered from recycling programs are made into new glass bottles.
  • Recycling glass can be used to manufacture fiberglass, insulation, reflective beads for highway safety products, tiles and flooring, abrasive materials and decorative applications.
    (Strategic Materials, 2008)
  • Recycled glass is substituted for up to 70% of raw materials.
  • Glass container companies employ about 18,000 workers and represent a $5.5 billion industry with 49 glass manufacturing plants in 23 states.
  • Energy usage drops about 2-3% for every 10% of cullet used in the manufacturing process.
  • For every ton of glass recycled, over a ton of raw materials are saved, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone and 160 pounds of feldspar.
    (Glass Packaging Institute)


Information found in MORA’s “Missouri Recycling Guide 2008” at