In these times of record-breaking unemployment in the United States (to say nothing of record-breaking costs for energy and landfill space), few solutions are more urgent—and none more logical—than creating jobs out of what we are otherwise throwing away. While disposal itself puts some people to work, primarily in the garbage collecting and landfilling industries, the level of disposal-related employment pales in comparison to the enormous jobs potential in the recycling, processing and manufacturing sectors.
Beverage containers, arguably the most common, most prolific and most sought-after of all household recyclables, stand to make a significant positive impact on domestic employment when recycled under a variety of programs. CRI's 2011 publication, “Returning to Work: Understanding the Jobs Impacts From Different Methods of Recycling Beverage Containers” quantifies this impact.
The report measures the net gains in domestic jobs when beverage containers made of glass, aluminum, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are recovered through container deposit-return programs, curbside recycling, and enhanced curbside recycling, versus landfill disposal.
"Returning to Work" is unique among jobs studies because it takes into account the vital importance of material quality, throughput quantities, processing dynamics and end-user needs, and CRI believes it is the first publication to combine all these approaches.
Furthermore, the study findings have been integrated into a one-of-a-kind tool for calculating and predicting the impact of recycling on employment in any given U.S. state. Known as “MIRJCalc” (Measuring the Impact of Recycling on Jobs Calculator), this tool is a user-friendly jobs estimator that calculates, the net impact on domestic jobs from increased recovery of aluminum cans, PET plastic bottles and glass bottles. MIRJCalc, allows the user to run specific scenarios for his or her state, or to rely on model defaults that have been carefully researched and verified.
A few key features distinguish MIRJCalc from other reports on jobs from recycling:
Although creation of jobs is a good reason to increase U.S. recovery of beverage containers, it’s not the only one. Many U.S. consumer-products manufacturers use recycled container material in everything from bottles and cans to fleece and fiberglass. This results in reductions in energy consumption, emissions, production and raw materials cost as well as helps meet consumers growing demand for sustainable products and packaging. Many companies say they would gladly use more if quality material was available.
The Brookings Report cites a 'green digest' of clean economy studies that is kept by the CA EDD; the report, which includes a summary of each by someone on the EDD staff can be found here.
December, 2011 By Clarissa Morawski and Jeffrey Morris for CRI
December, 2011 An article by Clarissa Morawski and Jeffrey Morris for Resource Recycling
December, 2011 By European Environment Agency
November, 2011 By Tellus Institute with Sound Resource Management
2010 By North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Recycling Business Assistance Center
September, 2010 by Friends of the Earth
February, 2009 By DSM Environmental and Mid Atlantic Solid Waste Consultants for Northeast Recycling Council
August 2008, By Gardner Pinfold Consulting for BC Ministry of Environment