By Greg Scruggs.

In the new Next City feature “Who Will Pay America’s $1.5 Billion Recycling Bill?,” writer Sarah Laskow explores an alternative to the country’s current land-fill-avoidance approach, namely the one that has cities picking up the tab for disposing of corporate America’s waste.

You may feel good about faithfully putting every bottle, box and shred of paper into a blue bin, but the stats Laskow cites pack a reality-check punch.

From 1985 to 1995, the percentage of municipal solid waste that was recycled grew quickly, from about 16 percent to about 25 percent. If we’d kept that up, we would be closing in on recycling half of our trash by now. But that pace started to slow, and 20 years later, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the recycling rate still hovers just under 35 percent.

Still, cities have been — and can continue to be — leaders on improving recycling. Here, a quick urban-centric history of the charge to fight mindless disposal.

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Read the full story at Next City.