As of 1998, Americans were recycling 28.8 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, up from 16 percent in 1990 and 10 percent in 1980. But after years of rapid growth, recycling rates seem to be leveling off and many states and municipalities are finding it difficult to achieve their more ambitious recycling goals. Today some 136 million people, or about 51 percent of the U.S. population, are participating in curbside recycling programs. But some recycling analysts say that the easy steps have now been taken and any further gains in recycling rates will be difficult and expensive to achieve. New York and California, two of the nation’s biggest garbage producers, set goals to recycle 50 percent of their municipal solid waste by the end of 2000, and neither state will make it. Still, the EPA has set a national recycling goal of 35 percent by 2005 and some analysts say its achievable.