According to a report published today – on America Recycles Day – a national investment in recycling would create more than 1.5 million jobs over the next twenty years.
“More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S.,” compiled by the Tellus Institute for Blue Green Alliance, Teamsters, SEIU, NRDC, Recycling Works, and GAIA, says about 75% of the nation’s waste can and should be recycled and that environmental benefits like reduced pollution and energy savings will accompany bottom line growth.
“Here in the city of Austin, we have a zero waste plan that says that by the year 2040 we are committed as a city to reduce our waste going to landfills and incinerators by 90%,” says Stacy Guidry, the Austin program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment. “I think, in pretty much all cases, it benefits a company to recycle. Not only are they not paying for waste hauling and disposal, businesses are going to be the entities that lead the way when it comes to recycling.”
But Paul Juhnke, president of Waste Disposal Equipment based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says it might not make sense for every business and organization to invest in recycling. But he says generally speaking, there’s a return on initial investment.
“The money that they spend for equipment is more than paid back a lot of time within two years. That can vary a lot, depending upon what kind of materials and the amount, but that’s kind of a rule of thumb.”
Juhnke and his company developed a “Guide to Calculate Savings from Waste Disposal & Recycling Equipment” so businesses can determine whether the initial investment in recycling will be worth it in the long run. Guidry, from Texas Campaign for the Environment, notes that there’s a tangential benefit of positive branding when businesses are associated with strong recycling policies.“People are starting to become more savvy consumers and they’re starting to do their research before they commit dollars to a company," says Guidry. "Businesses are starting to understand this and changing their policies to a more green approach.”