Recycling & Jobs

The executive summary of More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S., a soon-to-be-released report, was prepared by the Tellus Institute with Sound Resource Management for six groups who are working hard to increase recycling jobs and infrastructure in the United States. Download summary here. (http://www NULL.teamster NULL.pdf)

A 2005 study found about 14,000 people employed in recycling in North Carolina, a figure that had increased 40 percent in the previous ten years according to a 2005 report. There are 115,000 jobs in recycling in California, and a total of 105,000 jobs in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maine.

Recycling workers play a critical role in preventing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy, reducing toxic pollution, and provide materials for the nation’s large recycling manufacturing sector. As modern-day environmental stewards, recycling workers deserve respect, quality wages, and health and safety protections.

Starting wages for some union recycling sorting and collection firms are approximately $20 an hour—enough to begin to lift workers and their families out of poverty.But many recycling sorting and collection firms do not provide family-supporting wages. Recycling sorting and collection is also a dangerous profession, and occupational health and safety standards need to be strengthened and enforced across the industry.

More information:
High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the New Green Economy, Good Jobs First (2009) (http://www NULL.goodjobsfirst NULL.pdf)

In Harm’s Way, National Commission of Inquiry into the Worker Health and Safety Crisis in the Solid Waste Industry (2008) (http://www NULL.teamster NULL.prometheuslabor NULL.pdf)

2009 Recycling Economic Information Study Update: Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, & Pennsylvania, Northeast Recycling Council (2009) (http://www NULL.nerc NULL.pdf)