The U.S. produces an immense amount of waste — we generate over 12 percent of the planet's municipal waste even though we make up just 4 percent of the population. That averages out to around seven pounds of material per American every single day.
Only a third of our waste is recycled or composted while the vast majority is sent to landfills, incinerators, or the natural environment. Making matters worse, for decades, we exported recyclable and scrap materials to China, but recent trade restrictions have made it so the U.S. is stuck with landfilling millions of tons of recyclable materials previously handled by the Chinese.
We need to take decisive steps to address our growing waste crisis, and to get us off the linear path of extraction, production, consumption and disposal. It’s time to move to a circular, zero-waste economy.