Congratulations, Washington residents. For the first time ever, you are recycling more stuff than you are throwing away.
That’s the word today from Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant, reporting that in 2011, state residents recycled 50.7 percent of their solid waste. It’s the first time a yearly result has topped the 50 percent goal set in a 1989 state law.
On a per-person basis, state residents recycled an average of 3.64 pounds of material each day, while throwing away 3.54 pounds of waste.
The total amount of waste tossed out by households and businesses has been dropping since the start of the recession, influenced by a decline in demolition and construction. And during that time, the percentage of solid waste diverted to other uses, including recycling, energy recovery and reuse, has risen.
Sturdevant said the 2011 recycling effort helped the state avoid emitting 3.2 million tons of greenhouse gasses, the equivalent of keeping 1.9 million cars off the road.