Surveys differ on which U.S. states are top recyclers

Which states recycle the most of their trash? That depends on how you survey, according to the report “U.S. Recycling Laws: State-by-State Guide” published this month by Raymond Communications.

Minnesota, Oregon and Maine all have recycling rates above 40 per cent, according to their responses on the State Recycling Laws Update (SRLU) Survey — though another landfill and MRF survey from Chartwell Publishers pegs Washington and Vermont as the nation’s leading recycling states.

The survey data indicates that the top recycling states were Minnesota, Washington, New Jersey, Maine, Wisconsin, Oregon, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont Maryland and Ohio, based on state self-estimates.

California claims the top “diversion” rate of 48 per cent in 2002, though the Chartwell data indicates recycling is about 30 per cent. California also spends the most — about $120 million at the state level, funded with tip fee surcharges and extra fees charged to beverage makers.

Washington was the only state which reported the same recycling rate as Chartwell — 37 per cent, the highest on the Chartwell survey. Minnesota says it recycled 46.6 per cent in 2001, while the Chartwell survey puts its 2002 rate at 30 per cent. While Pennsylvania claimed a 36 per cent recycling rate for 2001, the Chartwell 2002 data put its rate at just 25 per cent, based on landfill surveys.

The 167-page report covers most recycling laws in all 50 states, with introductory analysis of packaging, electronics, mercury legislative trends for early 2004.

The state sections cover a range of 32 issues, including packaging restrictions, resin coding, tax credits, landfill bans, purchasing preferences, as well as electronics, used oil, tires, and household hazardous waste.

The Appendix includes the full State Recycling Rates & Budget chart, landfill bans table, and table of state grants and tax credits.

The report is available on CD or hard copy from Raymond Communications, publishers of SRLU and Recycling Laws International. Check or call 301-345-4237