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Best & Worst States for Waste Management


The river of trash and recyclables added a new stream in recent months -- discarded face masks and disposable gloves tossed on sidewalks and streets.

Ahead of America Recycles Day (November 15), the flood of garbage grows larger every year, threatening to swamp cities, states and even the U.S.

Which states are best at waste management -- controlling the flood of garbage recyclables? What can we learn from these states?

We crunched the numbers, and we asked the experts, too.

LawnStarter compared 14 metrics across four categories to determine the best and worst states at managing waste.

These metrics include the presence of plastic-bag bans, the presence of mandatory recycling laws and the number of recycling facilities per 100,000 residents.

Let’s talk trash.

Best States for Managing Waste

Rank State

1 Vermont

2 Oregon

3 California

4 Connecticut

5 Maine

6 Minnesota

7 New York

8 Iowa

9 Indiana

10 Washington

Worst States at Managing Waste

Rank State

42 New Hampshire

43 Montana

44 Tennessee

45 Louisiana

46 Kansas

47 Alabama

48 Kentucky

49 New Mexico

50 Nevada

51 Alaska

Key Takeaways:

More People, More Waste: Despite an emphasis on green living, only 25 states have mandatory recycling laws. Without recycling, trash adds up. More people equals more trash in landfills.

Paper or Plastic? Eight states ban single-use plastic bags, and scores of cities have banned plastic bags. Only Montana has no law banning at least one product from landfills.

Garbage at Home: Working from home turns your waste stream into a river, but recycling centers nearby fights the flood. Vermont, for example, leads in recycling centers per 100,000 residents.

Our full ranking and analysis -- and some surprising findings -- can be found here: https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/studies/best-worst-states-waste-management/

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about a particular state or our analysis.

Oh, and why does LawnStarter care about waste management? It’s an issue our crews deal with every day -- cleaning up or mulching grass clippings, and raking or blowing leaves.

Let’s all do our part to reduce waste by recycling, composting -- and throwing disposable face masks and gloves in the trash.

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