Five Ways Recycling Can Benefit Your Community

Leah Blunt

We all know recycling is good for the environment, but many don’t realize the ways recycling can positively impact their own community. These days, there are more than just moral incentives for communities to establish recycling options and encourage participation. Here are five ways the benefits of recycling can hit close to home.

Creates Green Jobs

Recycling has become a major industry that reaches far beyond your average curbside pickup program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2010 employment in green goods and services accounted for 3.1 million jobs in the United States. The green job potential grows exponentially the more communities invest in their own recycling efforts.

It’s easy to associate green jobs with what we see most often, such as curbside collection services, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot to do with recycling that goes on behind the scenes. Once a recyclable material is collected, it usually requires processing to transform it into a valuable material that can be reused. From there, those refined materials get manufactured into new products made from recycled material.

None of these steps can take place without businesses and employees to collect, transport, process and manufacture recovered materials. When put in the context of the numerous types of materials collected, such as glass, plastics, paper and metal, it is easy to see how the potential for green jobs adds up.

Earning Potential

The saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure couldn’t be truer than in the case of recycling. The market value of recycled or recyclable materials offers a great incentive for communities that recycle en mass. These days there are growing opportunities for communities to earn money by selling their recyclables or their already recycled materials. Processors and manufactures often purchase them so that they can make new products for less money than with virgin material. With communities earning money and companies saving money, this is a recycling win-win. This also benefits communities who are not yet equipped to process their own materials locally.

Recycling can also help bring in the green when state and federal tax credits apply. Tax credits are available under various circumstances for implementing green practices, and are intended to offer an incentive for communities and individuals within them to make green changes. In the case of recycling, communities can see benefits when their government and local businesses invest in recycling facilities and equipment and promote recycling.

Savings Potential

Recycling isn’t just saving materials from the landfill; it’s also saving expenses and resources for communities that participate. Recycling can help save money by diverting solid waste from regular garbage collection. Landfill fees are an easily overlooked aspect of tossing your trash out, but they are costs that add up and are usually absorbed by local budgets.

By offering efficient curbside pickup programs for recyclables and engaging community participation, the frequency of garbage routes and the amount of waste being sent to landfills can both be reduced. This can impact individuals in their neighborhoods, or on a larger scale can impact local businesses that might produce recyclable materials in larger quantities.

More savings follow when local manufacturers use recycled materials to replace virgin materials during production. A wide variety of products ranging anywhere from bottles and clothing to car parts and appliances can be produced using recycled materials. This saves companies money, and preserves the community’s energy and natural resource supply. All of which can help boost a local economy. The money companies save on production is often passed down to customers allowing the environmental and financial impact to come full circle.

Reduced Community Impact

Recycling on a local level offers the chance to make a big picture difference.

Many materials such as plastic bottles and aluminum are 100 percent recyclable, but unless they get collected, their potential is being trashed. Recycling significantly reduces the amount of materials that end up in our waste stream, which means less waste is landing in landfills or getting incinerated.

The processing and manufacturing of recyclables allows companies to reduce their reliance on virgin materials. Virgin materials are usually mined and processed, which requires energy and can pollute the surrounding environment. According to the EPA, producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from raw materials.

Recovered materials are a cost-effective solution that helps close the loop in the recycling process. They reduce carbon emissions and save energy, water and other natural resources in abundance.
When a community collectively reduces its impact on the environment, it is setting an example for other communities on a national or even global level.

Community Outreach/Involvement

In some cases, national partnerships are developed to assist local recycling initiatives, such as the recently announced partnership between the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP). By coming together, both organizations will be involved in assisting local communities in developing their curbside recycling programs.

A study recently released by the National Association for PET Container Resources shows that as of 2010, plastic bottles were the most commonly recycled material collected in curbside collection programs nationwide, and are recycled at a rate of about 29 percent – a number IBWA hopes to see grow. “The partnership with CVP presents an opportunity to beef up recycling rates for our packaging as well as other kinds through consumer education,” said Daniel Felton, the Vice President of Government Relations for

IBWA. “And CVP has a fantastic track record.”

Baton Rouge, La. saw a 35 percent jump in recycling collection in 2006 when it switched to single-stream recycling and provided residents with larger carts. However, that fell short of the mayor’s goal of increasing recycling tonnage by 50 percent. In 2007, Baton Rouge partnered with CVP to develop a campaign with consistent visuals and messaging linking recycling to pride in the city. The successful campaign has helped Baton Rouge surpass its goal of a 50 percent recycling increase.

CVP has helped launch at least 23 community recycling programs and has measured an average increase in recycling of 23 percent and an 18 percent increase in participation among them. Although, through its work, CVP has learned an important lesson to apply: no two communities are alike. IBWA agrees suggesting this notion applies in many contexts. “It can be politically relative, economically relative,” said Felton. “Is the community willing and able to participate? Is it rural or urban? Is the population high?”

There are plenty of factors to consider that make communities unique. However when people come together to achieve a common goal it can help create attributes that any community would find valuable. Implementing local recycling solutions can help communities develop communication, motivate local participation and help develop valuable partnerships on a local level.

Leah Blunt is the Fulfillment Editor for Earth911 based in ?. This article was reprinted with permission from Visit the original link at hosts the nation’s largest recycling directory and writes daily stories to help you reduce, reuse and recycle more. Visit their site to read the latest ideas and tips to minimize your impact and learn how you can recycle more where you live.