With only 5 per cent of the world's population, the United States consumes nearly half of the earth's industrial raw materials. The amount of solid wastes it produces is enormous. Present waste disposal methods pollute land, air, and water. Open dumps take up space and mar the countryside. Incinerators pollute the air; dumping into the sea fouls the waters.
Modern packaging stresses attractiveness, convenience, and durability but tends to squander natural resources and creates mountains of such non-biodegradable waste as metal cans, glass bottles, and plastic containers. To overcome this problem, many communities have established programs to recycle (that is, gather and reuse) glass, paper, plastic, and metal.