The Recycling Alternative

Links on Incinerator Alternatives and Recycling
Investment in recycling would provide about 240 TIMES as many jobs than blowing the same amount of money as Mayor Reed wants to spend on rebuilding the incinerator. (See the numbers for yourself...)

Recycling creates about 8 times more jobs than landfills and incinerators!

“Recycling has made a vital contribution to job creation and economic development. Recycling creates or expands businesses that collect, process, and broker recovered materials as well as companies that manufacture and distribute products made with recovered materials. Numerous studies have documented the billions of dollars invested and the thousands of jobs created by recycling. A 1995 recycling employment study for the state of North Carolina, for instance, documented that recycling activities support more than 8,800 jobs in the state, most of which are in the private sector. The study also found that recycling was a net job creator - for every 100 jobs created by recycling only an estimated 13 were lost in solid waste collection and disposal and virgin material extraction within the state.” (Shore, M.J. 1995. The impact of recycling on jobs in North Carolina. Prepared for the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Office of Waste Reduction, Raleigh, NC.)

“Waste reduction also reduces the negative effects of landfilling and burning materials. For landfills, these effects include groundwater pollution, release of global warming gases, and monitoring and remediation costs that will likely span centuries. Incinerators may even be worse, as pollution is borne directly to the air as well as to the land as ash; and energy wasted by not recycling is greater than the amount of energy produced via burning.

“...The economic development benefits of recycling are often overlooked (recycling creates at least ten times more jobs than landfills).

“...Local governments can also save. A recent U.S. EPA study of 14 communities recovering between 44% and 65% of their residential waste, found that 13 of these had cost-effective programs. Other research shows that costs for recycling decrease as recovery level increase. One factor for this is the costs for processing recyclables and yard debris are often much less than landfill or incinerator disposal tip fees.

“Restructuring waste management systems can pay off handsomely. For example, Madison, Wisconsin, reduced trash routes by 32% and switched to smaller trash trucks, after introducing its multi-material curbside recycling and yard debris collection programs. These trucks cost less and have lower repair costs than the trucks the city needed to collect all discarded materials as trash. The overall collection cost went down in Madison compared to the cost of operating a single fleet to pick up unseparated waste. Falls Church, Virginia, reduced trash collection frequency from twice to once a week, one year after implementing a multi-material curbside recycling program. As a result, the city raised its material recovery rate from 39% to 65%, cut trash collection costs by more than half, and reduced annual per household waste management costs by more than one third.

“In some communities recycling is viewed as an expensive burden. But often that is because these communities are recycling at low rates and are treating recycling as an add-on to their traditional trash system rather than a replacement for it. When communities reach high waste reduction levels, recycling becomes more cost-effective. Communities that maximize recycling save money by redesigning their collection schedules and/or trucks. Staff once devoted to trash collection now collect recyclables or yard trimmings. As communities attain ever higher recovery levels, planners and public works administrators are beginning to realize that recycling and composting can be the primary strategy for handling discards, rather than a supplement to the conventional system. The economics of recycling improves when, instead of adding to costs of recycling onto the costs of conventional collection and waste disposal, recycling becomes the heart of the system.

“...Recycling has had a major impact on job creation in local and state economies:

“...The job gains in recycling in [North Carolina] far outnumber the jobs lost in other industries. For every 100 recycling jobs created, just 10 jobs were lost in the waste hauling and disposal industry, and 3 jobs were lost in the timber industry.”

“Recycling creates many more jobs for rural and urban communities than landfill and incineration disposal options. Just sorting collected recyclable materials sustains, on a per-ton basis, 10 times more jobs than landfilling. However, it is making new products from the old that offers the largest economic pay-off. New recycling-based manufacturers employ even more people and at higher wages. Recycling-based paper mills and plastic product manufacturers, for instance, employ 60 times more workers than do landfills. Product reuse also sustains significantly more jobs than disposal options. Computer refurbishing and repair, for example, creates 68 times more jobs than landfills. If half the 25.5 million tons of durable goods now discarded into America's landfills each year were reclaimed through reuse, more than 100,000 new jobs could be created in this industry alone.”