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Recycling Creates Jobs

One of the justifications for recycling cited in our Why Recycle? post is that recycling creates jobs. The 2011 study More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S.  published by Tellus Institute provides further support for that claim.


The study postulates that achieving a 75% national recycling recycling rate would result in (among other benefits) the creation of 2.3 million jobs.  Additional jobs would be created indirectly by increasing demands on suppliers to the recycling sector, as well as increased spending by workers in the recycling industry.


The study examines two scenarios. Scenario 1, the ‘Base Case Scenario’ examines the effect of maintaining the status quo in the recycling industry.  Scenario 2 has been dubbed the ‘Green Economy Scenario’, based on an enhanced strategy that achieves 75% diversion by 2030.


The Base Case Scenario assumes that per capita waste generation will remain static, that population will increase, and that a 41% diversion rate will be attained by 2030.  Under this scenario the study estimates that 368,000 additional jobs will be created in the recycling industry by 2030.  The Green Economy Scenario employs more aggressive waste diversion tactics through a combination of policy, regulations and lifestyle changes.  


Though considered aggressive by today’s practices, the policies, regulations and behavior changes driving this scenario are based on what are considered “best practices” currently in place in a number of jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad.


 The Green Economy Scenario is estimated to generate 1,486,000 new jobs by 2030.  That’s 1.1 million more jobs than under the Base Case Scenario!


In addition to creating more jobs, the Green Economy Scenario will provide the following benefits:

  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to shutting down about 72 coal power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road.

  • Significant reductions in a range of conventional and toxic emissions that impact human and ecosystem health.

  • Reduction in the use of non-renewable resources.

  • Energy conservation.

  • Generating economic resiliency through stable, local employment.

To view the full report click here.



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  1. […] have long promoted recycling as a way to create jobs, and ReCommunity is proving that philosophy with the opening of their new facility in Delaware. […]

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