Waste Recovery Rates to Stagnate as Purity Requirements, Costs Rise


Cleveland, OH, April 21, 2020 — The volume of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in the US is forecast to increase 1.2% annually through 2023, according to Municipal Solid Waste: United States, a report recently released by Freedonia Focus Reports. Growth will be driven by expanding consumer spending on durable and nondurable goods. Advances in MSW recovery are expected to reflect gains in MSW generation, due to stagnant recovery rates. Further increases will be limited by intensifying scrutiny of recovered material purity by recyclers and rising costs for recycling operations. Packaging is forecast to remain the largest MSW generated and recovered segment, supported by rising packaging demand due to an expanding number of e-commerce packages shipped. Food is expected to see the fastest gains in both MSW generated and recovered. Gains will be driven by rising food shipments.

Over the forecast period, the volume of generated MSW will be impacted by recently enacted bans on polystyrene take-out containers and plastic disposable retail bags, particularly as more states and municipalities implement bans on single-use disposable items and consumers transition to the use of reusable bags and containers.

These and other key insights are featured in Municipal Solid Waste: United States. This report forecasts to 2023 US generated, recovered, and discarded MSW in short tons. MSW generated, recovered, and discarded are each segmented in terms of:

  • packaging
  • durables
  • nondurables
  • food
  • yard
  • miscellaneous inorganics (generated and discarded only)

To illustrate historical trends, total generated, recovered, and discarded MSW as well as the various segments are provided in annual series from 2008 to 2018.

The volume of recovered miscellaneous inorganic waste (e.g., cat box litter) is negligible and excluded from recovered volumes. MSW spans collection from residential, commercial (e.g., retail stores and offices), and institutional (such as schools and hospitals) sources. Construction, hazardous, and industrial waste are excluded from the scope of this report. Throughout this report, measures in tons refer to short tons.

More information about the report is available at: