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Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling

Yard Trimmings: Material-Specific Data

Yard trimmings include grass, leaves, and tree and brush trimmings from residential, institutional and commercial sources. Although limited data are available on the composition of yard trimmings, it is estimated that the average composition by weight is about 50 percent grass, 25 percent brush and 25 percent leaves. These are national estimates, and the actual number in specific locations may vary.

This web page is a brief summary of yard trimming-specific data in municipal solid waste (MSW). For more comprehensive information, see the 2015 Data Tables on the Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report page.

On this page:


Overview

This is a picture of a chart on yard trimmings waste management, spanning the years 1960 to 2014. This chart is measured in tons, and shows how much waste was recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery, and landfilled.EPA measures the generation, recycling, composting, combustion with energy recovery and landfilling of yard trimming material in MSW.

EPA estimated that the generation of yard trimmings in MSW was 34.7 million tons in 2015, which is 13.3 percent of MSW generation.

EPA analyzed information from state composting programs to calculate the composting of yard trimmings. This analysis resulted in an estimate of 21.3 million tons of yard trimmings composted or wood waste mulched in 2015 with a a 61.3 percent composting rate. State-reported composting tonnages may vary on a yearly basis with the amount of storm debris composted.

It should be noted that the estimated 21.3 million tons recovered for composting in 2015 does not include yard trimmings recovered for direct disposal, which are subsequently spread on the land. It also should be noted that these recovery estimates do not account for backyard composting by individuals.

The total amount of yard trimming material in MSW combusted in 2015 was 2.6 million tons. This represents 7.8 percent of all MSW combusted with energy recovery that year.

In 2015, landfills received about 10.8 million tons of yard trimmings, which comprised 7.8 percent of all MSW landfilled.

Please see the EPA Methodology Document for further information on estimating generation and management for yard trimmings.

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Summary and Graph

The data below are from 1960 to 2015, relating to the total number of tons of yard trimmings generated, recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery and landfilled.

1960-2015 Data on Yard Trimmings in MSW by Weight (in thousands of U.S. tons)
Management Pathway 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2014 2015
Generation 20,000 23,200 27,500 35,000 30,530 32,070 33,400 34,500 34,720
Recycled - - - - - - - - -
Composted - - - 4,200 15,770 19,860 19,200 21,080 21,290
Combustion with Energy Recovery - 90 550 5,240 2,860 2,220 2,510 2,630 2,630
Landfilled 20,000 23,110 26,950 25,560 11,900 9,990 11,690 10,790 10,800

Sources: Composting data was from state environmental agency websites.

A dash in the table means that data is not available.

This is a graph on yard waste waste management, spanning the years 1960 to 2015. This graph is measured in tons, and shows how much waste was recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery, and landfilled.

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