Recycling 75 percent of the United States’ waste could create 1.5 million jobs by 2030 compared with 2008, according to a new report sponsored by several environmental and labor groups.
The report, “More Jobs, Less Pollution,” also concludes that by diverting 75 percent of the nation’s municipal and construction and demolition (C & D) waste the United States would reduce emissions by 276 million metric tons by 2030. That’s the equivalent of eliminating emissions from 72 coal-fired power plants or removing 50 million cars from the road. That would also result in a savings of water and energy.
The report was prepared by the Tellus Institute for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the BlueGreen Alliance, the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union, Recycling Works! and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and released in conjunction with National Recycling Day.
Hitting the diversion goal would bring total green jobs to 2.3 million. Most of the new jobs, 98 percent, would come from diversion of municipal solid waste and C & D waste, while only 2 percent would come from disposal. The report claims recyclable processing can create two jobs for every 1,000 tons of waste, while disposal generates just 0.1 jobs for the same amount.
About 49 percent of the new jobs would be in manufacturing, making new products from recyclable materials.
If the United States basically continues on its current path with just modest increases in the recycling and composting rates, the report stated, only 368,000 new jobs will be created by 2030.
"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, in a news release from the group and its partners. "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."
"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.