"Now, 36 years after the nation's first Earth Day gave rise to the modern recycling movement, St. Louis is far from earning its green stripes. In fact, as the pilot program enters its tenth year, recycling languishes on the city's back-burner.
In 2005 only 11 percent of the city's 202,000 tons of residential waste was diverted from landfills, the vast majority being yard waste, which is turned into compost and mulch and given to city residents at no cost. Renewing such materials as newspapers, aluminum, glass and plastics represented a paltry 2 percent.
Greener-thinking coastal cities like San Francisco and Seattle have long enjoyed superior salvage operations. But even mid-American burgs like Memphis, Milwaukee and Kansas City recycle significantly more than St. Louis.
In Milwaukee the diversion rate is 25 percent, and in Memphis it's 23 percent, with both figures including yard waste. Kansas City recycles 17 percent of its trash (not including yard waste)."