Special Collections Event May 3&4, Erickson All Sports Facility, 8am to 2pm

Municipal Solid Waste

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)—more commonly known as trash or garbage—consists of everyday items we use and then throw away, such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. This comes from our homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses.

In 2010, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled and composted over 85 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.1 percent recycling rate. On average, we recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of our individual waste generation of 4.43 pounds per person per day (Figure 1 and Figure 2). 

EPA encourages practices that reduce the amount of waste needing to be disposed of, such as waste prevention, recycling, and composting.

Figure 1 Figure 2
MSW Recycling Rates, 1960-2010 Recycling Rates of Selected Products, 2010


Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency.