Smarter Business: Green Business Guides

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 as part of a series of nationwide events celebrating National Recycling Day, November 15, 2011, with events also taking place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, Austin, Houston, and Washington, D.C.

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 and other environmental pollutants that harm human health.

Increasing our recycling rather than dumping trash in landfills 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."

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.

"Never in our lifetime has it been more important to merge environmental progress with jobs. The country is underachieving when it comes to recycling and we hear about high unemployment rates every day.  This report raises hope," says Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at NRDC. "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."

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

"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."

Download the full report.

Progressive Field

Photo: Report Partners

last revised 11/14/2011

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