facts

did you know?

  • Americans used 50 billion water bottles in 2006 and sent 36 billion water bottles to landfills, the equivalent of 912 million gallons of oil. If laid end to end, that’s enough bottles to travel from the Earth to the Moon and back 10 times! If placed in a landfill or littered, those bottles could take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
  • Only 7.1% of plastic waste in America was recycled in 2008. By weight, that means that out of 30.05 million tons of plastic waste generated that year, almost 28 million tons ended up in landfills. That’s the equivalent of 366,000 Boeing 737 commercial airplanes.
  • The recycling rate for plastic goods is far lower than many other common household items, such as cardboard or aluminum. From 2000 to 2008, the recycling rate for plastic slightly increased from 5.8% to 7.1%, while the overall waste recycling and composting rate increased from 29% to 33.2%.
  • The amount of waste produced by Americans has almost tripled since 1960, now totaling over 250 million tons of trash.
  • In 2006, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.
  • Unlike soda and other carbonated beverages, there is no deposit on water bottles in most states, so far fewer are recycled.
  • Recycling in the U.S. saves the energy required to fuel 11 million cars.
  • The U.S. EPA estimates that current U.S. recycling of municipal solid waste avoids the emissions equivalent to 180 million tons of carbon dioxide, or about 2.5% of total U.S. emissions.
  • Recycling a ton of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic containers saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Using recycled plastics instead of virgin raw materials to manufacture products saves 70% of the energy by comparison; therefore, using recycled products is one of the simplest ways to fight climate change.
  • Recycling a pound of PET plastic saves approximately 12,000 BTU’s of energy.
  • In 2005, 18 million barrels of crude oil equivalent were consumed to replace the 2 million tons of plastic bottles that were wasted instead of recycled. Manufacturing that much plastic releases more than 880,000 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change.
  • The recycling and reuse industry consists of approximately 56,000 establishments that employ over 1.1 million people, generate an annual payroll of nearly $37 billion, and gross over $236 billion in annual revenues.
  • 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people.
  • 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.
  • The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
  • People living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per gallon of water than wealthy people living in the same city.
  • An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
  • The production of one pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water. There is a huge variation around this global average. The precise footprint of a piece of beef depends on factors such as the type of production system and the composition and origin of the feed of the cow.
  • The water footprint of a 6-ounce soy burger produced in the Netherlands is about 50 gallons. A beef burger from the same country costs about 264 gallons.
  • The water footprint of Chinese consumption is 1,400 cubic yards per year per capita. About 10% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.
  • Japan with a footprint of 1,800 cubic yards per year per capita, has about 77% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country.
  • The water footprint of US citizens is over 3,700 cubic yards per year per capita. About 20% of this water footprint is external. The largest external water footprint of US consumption lies in the Yangtze river basin, China.
  • The global water footprint in the period 1996-2005 was 1.19e+31 cubic yds/yr. Agricultural production contributes 92% to this total footprint.
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