OLYMPIA, Wash. -

Washington residents recycled slightly less in 2012 than the year before, but the recycling rate still surpassed a 50 percent goal set by state law.

The Ecology Department reported Tuesday the state's recycling rate was 50.1 percent in 2012, down from 50.7 percent in 2011.

Officials say the national recycling average was nearly 35 percent in 2011.

Residents recycled more than 4.4 million tons of stuff in 2012. That's about 3 1/2 pounds per person per day. Officials say recycling materials instead of sending it to landfills saved the state from emitting about 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Officials say recycling conserves energy, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduces residents' exposure to toxic chemicals.