DENVER (Reuters) – Solid waste industries in the United States are booming, with the nation producing roughly 7.2 billion tons of waste annually and the nation’s wastewater sector generating $20.9 billion in annual revenue last year, according to the American Waste Institute.
The sector generated $8.3 billion in 2012, a jump of 24 percent from 2011, and it is expected to grow to $14.9 by 2020, the institute said.
The solid waste industry is the second largest in the U.S., after natural gas and coal.
The industry has been growing at a rapid clip since the end of the recession in 2009, when waste disposal rates in the country shot up, and a number of reforms were instituted to improve the quality and safety of the waste disposal process.
But now, with a glut of wastewater disposal facilities, it’s the biggest source of waste in the nation.
Solid waste is the vast majority of the nations waste.
It accounts for nearly 75 percent of all landfills, according the Institute for Sustainable Business, and solid waste is an important source of nitrogen in the economy.
It is the leading source of pollution in our nation, and the United State’s second largest source of greenhouse gases.
“There is no question that solid waste poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of our citizens and our planet,” said Susanne Stahl, the chief executive officer of the Institute, in a statement.
The United States is among the few countries that has not passed a law to regulate solid waste, a position supported by some of the countrys leading environmental groups.
Solid waste is often found in buildings, industrial plants, and warehouses, and some of its disposal is considered hazardous.