More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S.

This new Tellus Institute report, released ahead of National Recycling Day by the BlueGreen Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Teamsters, SEIU, Recycling Works!, and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, shows the economic and environmental benefits of achieving a 75 percent national recycling rate, including job creation—particularly in manufacturing, pollution reduction and the strengthening of local communities and employment bases.

Increased Recycling Will Create 1.5 Million Jobs, Reduce Pollution

U.S. Leaders, Unions, Advocates Hail Report Calling For 75 Percent  Recycling Rate

(Washington, D.C.) – Higher recycling rates hold the potential to produce millions of new jobs, would strengthen local economies, reduce pollution and improve public health, according to a new report released today.

At a National Recycling Day event at the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and a panel of environmental, labor and other leaders discussed the report, More Jobs, Less Pollution, which found that a 75 percent national recycling rate holds the potential to create millions of new jobs.

More Jobs, Less Pollution is a report from the Tellus Institute prepared for the BlueGreen Alliance, SEIU, NRDC, Teamsters, Recycling Works!, and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

A 75 percent national recycling rate would also reduce CO2 emissions by 276 million metric tons by 2030 – equivalent to eliminating emissions from 72 coal-fired power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road; reduce conventional and toxic emissions that impact human and ecosystem health; and generate a stronger economy by creating a broader employment base.

“Increasing our recycling rather than dumping these renewable resources in landfills and incinerators will create nearly 1.5 million jobs that are sorely needed, and will benefit the environment,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “The Teamsters are interested in creating good, green jobs.”

“This report shows that increasing our recycling rate will both conserve our natural resources and create jobs, with a significant amount of those jobs coming in manufacturing,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster. “At a time when our country needs strategies to create good jobs and confront climate change, recycling represents an opportunity to put people back to work while building a stronger, more efficient economy as well as a cleaner and healthier environment.”

“Recycling creates jobs-a national priority. And recycling does this while reducing pollution and conserving resources and energy. Recycling can do so much that expensive incinerators and unproductive landfills cannot do for our communities. As cities make decisions about how to manage waste,” said Monica Wilson, U.S. and Canada Program Director with GAIA, “they should invest in good, safe jobs in recycling, composting, and reuse.”

“Never in our lifetime has it been more important to merge environmental progress with jobs,” said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The country is underachieving when it comes to recycling and we hear about high unemployment rates every day. This report raises hope. It confirms that organized labor and environmentalists can join together and reminds us that recycling still holds great potential to heal the planet in an ecologically and economically productive way. We want to educate and encourage policy makers at all levels of government about what they can do to create a more robust recycling system for our planet and our economy.”

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Increasing Recycling Will Create Nearly 1.5 Million Jobs, Reduce Pollution

San Francisco event kicks off release of report in advance of National Recycling Day

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 14, 2011) Recycling 75 percent of the nation’s waste will create nearly 1.5 million jobs by 2030 while significantly reducing pollution, saving water and energy, and building economically strong and healthy communities, according to a new study released today by leading labor and environmental groups. The national report More Jobs, Less Pollution was released ahead of National Recycling Day on November 15 at an event attended by San Francisco Department of the Environment Director Melanie Nutter and local labor and environmental leaders.

“San Francisco’s goal of Zero Waste is not only important for our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but it equally provides opportunities for local residents to gain good paying green jobs – it’s a win-win for the environment and our local communities,” said Melanie Nutter, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.“To date we are at 78 percent waste diversion and have created over 500 green jobs in the City at the same time.”

More Jobs, Less Pollution also shows that while the vast majority of municipal solid waste nationwide can be readily recycled, re-used, or composted, only 33 percent is currently diverted from disposal, and only 30 percent of the 178 million tons of construction and demolition debris is recycled. Most of our waste is still sent to landfills and incinerators. By implementing a bold national recycling and composting strategy of 75 percent waste diversion rate by 2030, the report shows that we can create much needed local jobs, save resources like water, and reduce pollution andother environmental pollutants that harm human health.

“This report verifies yet another example of the enormous job creating opportunities that lie in confronting our biggest environmental challenges,” said Lisa Hoyos, California Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Recycling creates jobs, particularly in manufacturing, it reduces pollution and it will build a stronger economy all around. Job creation and environmental protection must be at the top of our priority list. We can and must move this country toward a 75 percent recycling rate.”

By diverting 75 percent of the nation’s waste, including municipal and construction and demolition waste, our nation would reduce emissions by 276 million metric tons by 2030, or the equivalent of eliminating emissions from 72 coal-fired power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road.

San Francisco recycling worker Ryan McKee’s story is a true example of how expanding and upgrading recycling programs creates local, permanent jobs. “I was unemployed but got a full-time job as a sorter as the city expanded the recycling program. That job allowed me to pay the rent, buy groceries, and provide medical benefits for my new family,” said McKee. “While working at Recology’s recycling plant in San Francisco, I studied for and passed the Class A commercial driver’s license test and the company gave me additional training so I could become a compost collection truck driver.”

Today’s event at San Francisco City Hall officially launched the national release of More Jobs, Less Pollution. San Francisco is a nationwide leader in recycling. Recently, San Francisco reached a 78 percent waste diversion rate that resulted in the creation of hundreds of local jobs and reductions in pollution and exposure to other harmful toxins.

“Recycling conserves natural resources, cuts global warming pollution, and saves water and energy,” said Darby Hoover, Senior Resource Specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This new report shows that not only is recycling good for the environment, it’s good for the economy. By expanding recycling, we can create jobs and help protect the environment at the same time.”

More Jobs, Less Pollution was prepared for the BlueGreen Alliance, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Service Employees International Union, Recycling Works! and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) by the Tellus Institute.

“Recycling creates jobs—a national priority. And recycling does this while reducing pollution and conserving resources and energy. Recycling can do so much that expensive incinerators and unproductive landfills cannot do for our communities. As cities make decisions about how to manage waste,” said Christine Keith, Executive Director of GAIA, “they should invest in good, safe jobs in recycling, composting, and reuse.”

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Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling

Policies and investments that expand our nationwide recycling infrastructure for the 21st century can help solve our nation’s current jobs crisis. At the same time, a dramatic increase in recycling will help lay the foundation for long-term sustainable growth that benefits working people and the planet alike.

The BlueGreen Alliance and its labor and environmental partners support a comprehensive national strategy to address waste reduction, reuse and recycling. Such a strategy will save energy, reduce global warming emissions, divert solid waste from our landfills and incinerators, and create and retain family-supporting jobs.

GREEN FILES: Recycling for a Sustainable Wisconsin Future

WRR-photoWRR Environmental Services Co., Inc. in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is a union employer that recycles organic solvents so they can be reused for paint, printing, and industrial applications. Charles Terry, the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, says that recycling a truckload of organic solvent can save approximately 40 tons of green house gases, and it also reduces dependency on foreign oil.  Any of the material that can’t be recycled is made into an alternative fuel for cement kilns.  In addition to solvents, WRR also works with certain plastics, converting it into a chemical that can be reused instead of going to a landfill for disposal.

Terry says he feels it’s important to work in a green job because he wants to do something to make the world a better place for his children and grandchildren.

Mayors’ Green Manufacturing Initiative: Municipal Solid Waste Reclamation Trends: A Local and National Perspective

mayorsTim Goodman’s report looks at the trends in municipal solid waste programs, how Minneapolis and Saint Paul stack up nationally and what needs to happen to attract waste processing facilities.

The report was part of the Mayors’ Green Manufacturing Initiative.