America's Worst Recycling Cities

Cities who divert the least from landfill named and shamed

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 13, 2009 6:36 AM CDT

(Newser) – The average American city recycles about a third of its waste, but the lack of any unified national standard for trash disposal means some cities rate way, way, below average. Mother Jones lists those with the biggest trash piles:

  • Oklahoma City recycles only 3% of its waste. Households have to pay a steep price to recycle, resulting in the worst recycling rate in the land.

  • Indianapolis, 3.7% recycled. Just 12% of residents have curbside pickup.
  • San Antonio, 4%. Cheap deals with landfill operators trump pricey recycling plants.
  • Philadelphia, 8.4%: The city decided not to roll out a citywide recycling reward plan, despite its 90% success rate in one neighborhood.
  • Houston, 9.4%: Less a quarter of homes have curbside recycling, and the waiting list for bins is 25,000 names long.

A truck delivers a load of plastic bottles and other containers to the Stratford, Conn., recycling center, part of The Garbage Museum.
A truck delivers a load of plastic bottles and other containers to the Stratford, Conn., recycling center, part of The Garbage Museum.   (AP Photo/Bob Child)
Cities with plenty of landfill space left tended to be among the worst recyclers.
Cities with plenty of landfill space left tended to be among the worst recyclers.   (Shutter Stock)
Recycling plans have been put on hold in many places due to a dive in the resale value of recyclable materials.
Recycling plans have been put on hold in many places due to a dive in the resale value of recyclable materials.   (©Robert S. Donovan)
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