What Percent of My Stuff Actually Gets Recycled?

If you recycle, you’re probably wondering: What percentage of my stuff actually gets recycled? According to the Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit that provides grants to cities and counties to improve recycling programs, only 16.9% of what you put in your bin actually gets recycled. Despite these low rates, Enck wants you to keep recycling. Here are some statistics on what percent of recycling actually gets recycled. In the U.S., paper and cardboard make up the bulk of all recycling, with almost six in 10 recyclables getting recycled.

Currently, only a small percentage of plastic bottles are recyclable in the U.S.: just 29 percent of PET bottles are collected and turned into recycled materials, according to a recent report by Greenpeace. The rest, known as “mixed plastic,” are mostly burned as fuel in China. Even if some plastics are collected, they’re rarely recycled and instead end up in landfills or exported.

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Nevertheless, recycling continues in many places. In fact, many countries are importing more recyclable materials than before. However, some waste companies are stockpiling recyclables in the hope that China will reconsider their policy. Ultimately, they’ve been successful in raising the quality standards of recyclable materials. But a recent study by National Geographic found that nine percent of recycled plastic is “downcycled,” making it less useful than when it first arrived.

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