Monday, November 21, 2011

REPORT: Recycling and EPR can create 1.5 million new jobs in the U.S.

A new report claims that recycling 75% of municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition debris (C&D) by 2030 will result in 1.5 million new jobs and result in greenhouse gas and pollution reduction benefits.
The report, More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S.,was conducted by Boston-based Tellus Institute with Seattle-based Sound Resources Management. It was prepared for a coalition of labor, environmental and social justice organizations, including the BlueGreen Alliance, SEIU, NRDC, Teamsters, Recycling Works!, and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
Two of the four recommended policy options to achieve the 75% waste diversion rate are based on the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility:
  • Extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations to encourage changes in product and packaging design that reduce volume/weight and toxicity and enhance recyclability or compostability.
  • A (national) bottle bill covering not only carbonated beverages such as soda and beer, but also bottled water, sports drinks, fruit juice, teas, etc., as has been adopted in California, Hawaii, and Maine.

From the press release:
“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.”

Key findings
This study provides strong evidence that an enhanced national recycling and composting strategy in the United States can significantly and sustainably address critical national priorities including climate change, lasting job creation, and improved health. Achieving a 75 percent diversion rate for municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition debris (C&D) by 2030 will result in:
  • A total of 2.3 million jobs: Almost twice as many jobs as the projected 2030 Base Case Scenario, and about 2.7 times as many jobs as exist in 2008. There would be a significant number of additional indirect jobs associated with suppliers to this growing sector, and additional induced jobs from the increased spending by the new workers.
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions: The reduction of almost 515 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (eMTCO2) from diversion activities, an additional 276 million eMTCO2 than the Base Case, equivalent to emissions from about 72 coal power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road.
  • Less pollution overall: Significant reductions in a range of conventional and toxic emissions that impact human and ecosystem health.
  • Unquantified benefits of reducing ecological pressures associated with use of non-renewable resources, conserving energy throughout the materials economy, and generating economic resiliency through stable, local employment.


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