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Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling

Methodology: EPA's Facts and Figures on Materials, Waste and Recycling

EPA provides the methodology document to give context and background on its statistics on materials, wastes and recycling in America. Please note that the Recycling Economic Information Report has a separate methodology.

The analysis in Facts and Figures characterizes the MSW stream of the nation as a whole. At the national level, EPA uses a materials flow methodology, which relies on a mass balance approach. Using data from industrial associations, key businesses and similar industry sources, as well as government sources such as the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau, EPA estimates the tons of materials generated, recycled, composted or sent to combustion facilities and landfills. EPA supplements this data with other sources such as waste characterizations and surveys performed by governments.

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