Increased Recycling Would Create Nearly 1.5 Million Jobs, Reduce Pollution

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

WASHINGTON (November 15, 2011) -- 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” (available at 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 the 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.

“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.”

“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.”