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Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in the United States: Facts and Figures

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Check out our infographic on MSW!

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List of State and Local Waste Characterization Studies - A collection of state and local waste characterization studies

The MSW Characterization report provides the most recent available data on annual US waste generation, recycling, and disposal, as well as the benefits of recycling.

Recycling is a key component of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program (SMM).  SMM is an effort to protect the environment and conserve resources for future generations through a systems approach that seeks to reduce materials use and their associated environmental impacts over their entire life cycles, starting with extraction of natural resources and product design and ending with decisions on recycling or final disposal.

2012 MSW Characterization Reports

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

The full report, which is released every two years, contains data on:

  1. MSW generation, recovery, and disposal from 1960 to 2011;
  2. Per capita generation and discard rates;
  3. Source reduction (waste prevention);
  4. Materials and products that are in the waste stream;
  5. Aggregate data on the infrastructure for MSW management, including estimates of the number of curbside recycling programs, composting programs, and landfills in the US; and
  6. Trends in MSW management from 1960 to 2011, including source reduction, recycling and composting, and disposal via combustion and landfilling.

MSW Characterization Reports from Previous Years


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