Washington continues to recycle, but garbage grows

The news on recycling is a mixed bag. Although Washingtonians sent a total of 5.3 million tons of waste to landfills last year, we recycled 43 percent of municipal waste. At the same time, we had success diverting other materials, such as construction and demolition debris, raising the total statewide "recovery" of materials from 47 to 49 percent.

Standard recycling by households and businesses in Washington held mostly steady, at 43 percent in 2006, down just one percentage point from 2005, according to new numbers compiled by the state Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology). That accounts for more than 4 million tons of recycled material.

"These numbers tell us people in Washington are responsible about not sending garbage to a landfill where it can harm the environment," said Laurie Davies, acting manager for Ecology's Solid Waste Program. "But we need to think a lot more about not creating waste in the first place. That means thinking about the products we buy, how they're made and packaged."

Besides saving landfill space, waste prevention and recycling also are important strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy, Davies noted. Washington's re-cycling efforts for 2006 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3 million tons, or 1,000 pounds per person.

This roughly equates to removing 2.5 million passenger cars from the roadway each year.[[In-content Ad]]