If you need to have junk hauled away from your property, you may wonder if any of it is recycled. The answer to this is a really big ‘it depends.’ Hopefully, this short guide can give you a better idea of our recycling habits in the US and how junk removal companies are incentivized to recycle or donate junk whenever possible.
Where does all of the junk go?
Americans generate a massive amount of waste, amounting to nearly 4.9 pounds per person, per day, on average. This includes all manner of junk, household waste, trash, garbage, recyclables, and organic waste, so it’s useful to first have a look at the total amount of waste and where it ends up.
As of 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported a total of 292.4 million tons of waste in the US. From this total, 69 million tons were recycled (along with 25 million tons of composted waste). Taken together, composting and recycling in the US works out to about 94 million tons or a 32.1% recycling & composting rate.
To give a little more context on recycling in the US, the overall trend since the 1960s has been towards higher rates of recycling. For example, glass was recycled at a rate of around 2% in 1960 but has risen to around 25% in 2018. Paper recycling has grown from 17% in 1960 to 68% in 2018. The bottom line is that this is a lot better than 0% (no recycling at all!), but another way to look at it is that we’ve still got lots of work to do to increase recycling rates.
When it comes to junk that’s been hauled off your property, where it ends up obviously depends on the type of junk. Non-recyclable junk and waste that cannot be composted often end up in landfills. Some items can be donated to charities, others cannot. Do not always assume that everything simply gets dumped into the landfill, because this is quite far from the truth for most junk hauling!
Separating non-recyclable junk from recyclables
Junk removal companies near you will be able to help you haul away junk. From your perspective, you may simply just want it out of sight and out of mind and perhaps you don’t care where it ends up, so long as it’s far away from your property.
Junk haulers remove all sorts of junk every single day, including bulky items like refrigerators and other appliances, furniture, bags of assorted trash, old clothing, trampolines, and just about anything else you might imagine. This means that they’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s recyclable and what isn’t.
This can be helpful for property owners or anybody else that needs junk hauled away. Experienced and reliable junk haulers that know how to sort and dispose of junk and waste properly means more efficient services, more sensible and environmentally friendly junk removal, and even lower prices for customers.
Incentives for junk haulers to recycle & donate junk
Junk removal businesses are incentivized to actively recycle and donate junk whenever possible, since it helps keep their operating costs low which in turn keeps their prices competitive for you, the customer.
In a 2021 report by the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), the average cost of dumping waste in a landfill in the US was around $55.36 per ton. This fee is gradually rising year over year, and it’s a cost that is directly baked into the total cost that the junk hauler will charge you for their services, in addition to their own overhead, labor and mileage charges.
The fees for recycling, however, depend largely on the type of item that is being recycled as well as the jurisdiction where the junk hauler is operating. States like California have implemented fees on new consumer electronics purchases with the California Electronic Waste Recycling Act; many states are now also introducing fees for electronics waste (e-waste) disposal. Other recyclables such as appliances containing scrap metal and organic waste often have disposal fees as well, which can vary quite a bit.
One way to dispose of junk without paying any fees is to donate it to a charitable organization instead. Remember the 3 R’s of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle? Re-using items is a sensible thing to do and it also helps others to reduce their own consumption.
Junk haulers will often try to donate any junk of a sufficient condition for charities, which means they dispose of it for free. Any other items that can be recycled will be taken to a recycling facility instead. Lastly, any waste that simply cannot be reused (donated) or recycled will be taken to the landfill.
In brief, junk removal businesses are incentivized to donate or recycle any junk they can due to the cost of dumping waste in a landfill. By sorting out junk properly, they also remain compliant with any waste disposal laws in place, which is good for the environment but also for reducing any fines or penalties for improper disposal.
Beware of companies that don’t recycle any junk
Whenever you’re talking with a junk removal company over the phone, don’t hesitate to ask them what they do with the junk. A good, honest eco-friendly junk hauler should have no qualms telling you how they intend to either donate, recycle, or dump the waste in a landfill depending on the waste type.
If the junk hauler tries to avoid the question, that’s a red flag. What it normally means is that the junk hauler doesn’t donate or recycle anything but instead dumps it all. Now, we’ve already discussed how this can be cost-prohibitive and it generally makes economical sense to sort out and dispose of waste properly – these types of junk haulers probably aren’t doing any of that.
Instead, you may be talking with a company that engages in illegal dumping. Well, that’s how they keep costs low – they don’t pay a single penny for dumping on someone else’s property! Obviously, this is terrible for the environment, but it’s also illegal and the junk hauler can be prosecuted with fines and penalties (sometimes, even prison time may be on the books). Sometimes, the source of the waste, i.e. you, the property owner, can even be fined or punished for knowingly engaging in business with an illegal dumping operation.
Unfortunately, a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch. The good news is that you don’t have to take your chances when it comes to picking a reputable junk hauler. JunkGator makes the whole process simple and straightforward. Not only is every junk hauler vetted and approved for quality and a commitment to customer service, but they’re also legitimate, honest small businesses that are trying to keep costs competitively low while also disposing of waste in a sensible and legally-compliant manner.
Have your junk donated or recycled with junk haulers on JunkGator
Start using JunkGator and find nearby junk removal businesses that engage in eco-friendly junk removal services and that strive to donate or recycle junk whenever possible. This is good for the environment, it saves you money, and it rewards good, honest small junk removal businesses.