Washington residents recycled more than 4.4 million tons of material last year, an amount equal to each person recycling 3.5 pounds of material daily.
The state’s recycling rate was 50.1 percent in 2012, compared to 50.7 percent in 2011, according to the Department of Ecology.
Last year was the second in a row that the state exceeded a legislative goal of diverting more than half of the municipal waste headed to landfills through recycling, department officials said. The national average for recycling was 34.7 percent in 2011.
In Washington, recycling led to a net reduction in greenhouse gases of 2.6 million tons — the difference in emissions between using recycled materials versus producing virgin materials.
“People in our state continue to be among the best when it comes to putting less in trash and more in the recycling bin,” Laurie Davis, manager of Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources program, said in a statement.
She said per-capita disposal numbers are at their lowest in 24 years, while amounts of recycled electronics and composted yard debris continue to rise. However, there’s room for improvement, she said.
“We still throw away lots of recyclables and other resources. Wasting those resources is not sustainable over the long term,” Davis said.