Recycling => Reinvigorating the Economy

 Cross-posted from the CA League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) blog, Groundswell.

A report recently released by the BlueGreen Alliance“More Jobs, Less Pollution”– makes a new case for recycling.  Often cited by people as the easy “green” thing to do in our lives, it now turns out that recycling plays an important role in helping our economy rebound.

The more we work to divert our waste from landfills and towards recycling and re-using, the more people we will employ.  After all, it takes many hands to sort and reform glass, plastics, paper, and other materials.   

During the recent California legislative session, CLCV helped to pass Assembly Bill 341 (Chesbro).  AB 341 will create new green jobs in California by expanding recycling to every multi-family dwelling and business, and mandating that the state recycle at least 75% of the garbage that it generates by 2020.

AB 341 is another great example of California taking the lead on important environmental issues.  More Jobs, Less Pollution describes the impressive economic and environmental benefits that would result if the federal government were to follow California’s lead:

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: About 2.7 times as many jobs as exist in 2008.
  • 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 shutting down 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.

Sadly, many recycling programs around the nation don't even come close to being as rigorous as the one that California is setting up via AB 341.  The good news is that with our state taking the lead on yet another environmental issue, we provide a successful blueprint for the rest of the country.  California is known as a trend setter for a reason, and this time it can be with how we handle our waste.

Want to get involved? TAKE ACTION: Check out BlueGreen Alliance's action alert asking President Obama to support a more aggressive recycling agenda modeled after California's.