Washington’s recycling rate fell slightly in 2013, marking the fourth consecutive year of flat annual figures for the Evergreen State.
The state recycling rate fell to 48.9 percent in 2013, down from 50.1 percent in 2012, according to a new report from the Washington Department of Ecology. That number is still well above the national average of 34.5 percent, but Washington’s rate has hovered around 50 percent for the past four years.
“If you look at the last few years, it seems like we’ve kind of reached a plateau,” Dan Weston, recycling data analyst at the Department of Ecology, told Resource Recycling. “It seems like maybe we’ve gotten all the easy stuff. We’ve got all that down. We [all] know how to recycle aluminum cans at this point.”
On the whole, 4.3 million tons of materials were recycled in Washington during the year, while about 4.5 million tons of waste were sent to landfill. Residents recycled 3.4 pounds of material per day per person.
By material, aluminum can recycling saw one of the biggest increases of 2013, growing by 14.7 percent to 15,636 tons. Recycling of high grade papers, mixed papers and newspapers also saw an increase, up 7.1. percent and reaching 483,864 tons, the new data shows. In addition, carton recycling increased by 20.7 percent and totaled 7,407 tons.
Plastics recycling was essentially flat, coming in at 77,494 tons, representing just a 0.1 percent increase from 2012. PET recycling increased by 13.3 percent and totaled 21,333 tons.
Decreases in activity were found in a handful of product categories, including cardboard, which fell 7.1 percent, and container glass, which fell 21.1 percent.
Glass recycling firm eCullet closed its facility in Seattle in 2013, and state officials didn’t receive a report from the company for material recycled before the closure, noted Weston, who thinks the glass started going out of state for recycling.
The state’s diversion rate, which takes into account materials traditionally collected outside the curbside stream and includes energy recovery alongside recycling, dropped for the second year in a row, to 51.2 percent.
For a complete rundown of recycling and diversion data compiled by the state, click here.