Transparency in Recycling Rates

For its member countries the European Union provides exact figures for the recycling rates of many recyclable fractions.

Dipl.-Ing.(TU) Werner P. Bauer

In almost all countries of the world, decision makers base their targets on a recycling quota. But how is this quota determined? There are probably as many ways as there are countries. To make the calculation of recycling quotas transparent within the EU and beyond its borders, we asked which standards and methods are common and which underlying analyses are to be applied. 

With the help of our content partner ARGUS we want to inspire to harmonise the process of international comparison of recycling rates in the interest of the environment and to strengthen the reliability of comparisons.
I invite you on a journey into our new thematic field: Methods, Analyses and Data.
Do you know your rates for recycling? 


My name is Philipp Schmidt-Pathmann.
Born and raised in Hamburg, Germany.
Since 1990 in the Seattle area.
I have been in the Waste Management field for the past 25 tears and in October 2001 was a founding member of WTERT in New York at Columbia University.
At that time representing WRSI Consulting Group.
In October of 2020 I started the Institute for Energy and Resource Recovery a 501c3 Non-Profit Corporation.

Question: Is your inquiry about Transparency in Recycling Rates meant for Europe or is it supposed to include other countries?
The reason for my asking is that in the US it will be very difficult to get any transparency in what is really recycled.
Most of the recycling operations are controlled interest of the private landfill companies that more or less pick up the vast majority of the ‘recyclables’ in the US.
In the State of Washington for example Municipalities are serviced by Waste Management (largest landfill company), Republic (2nd largest US landfill company) and Recology.
These companies pick up the ‘recyclables’ (combining glass, paper, carboard, metals, plastics others) and haul it to one of their MRFs. At this point there is nothing transparent what actually gets recycled.
Example: While a local municipality states a recycling rate of 52-54% the state authorities (Washington State Department of Ecology) gets the numbers form the private haulers but due to money constraints has no way of verifying what actually gets recycled. I would put the true recycling rate more at 20-25% and the rest ends up on a landfill somewhere in the US or international. Overall, the same applies to the US EPA who are dependent on the numbers from the private companies.
It is in the best interest of the private haulers aka landfill companies to keep people guessing so that they can use the numbers of the tonnage delivered to the MERFs subtract that from the overall tonnage of waste picked up from customers and continue to paint a misleading and false picture all in the interest of continuing to landfill.
IeRM was founded to change that.
However, for the past 25 years it has been an uphill battle.
Considering that the Waste Managment Industry is worth over $210 Billion Annually, with some of the most favorite stocks on Wall Street (Due to the profits they get from landfilling waste). The CEOs of Waste Management and Republic make upward of $12 Million including stock options annually and are not at all motivated to change anything.
Please take a look at our website where you will find quite useful information about the US Waste System for example under and
01.10.2022 09:41:18

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