According to the United Nations Environment Program, a green job is defined as “work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development, administrative, and service activities that contribute(s) substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality.” Green jobs encompass anything from renewable energy jobs to green building jobs; jobs in the organic industry; and policy, planning and scientific jobs that restore natural resources.
Think renewability, sustainability and efficiency — the three words that describe the engine that will drive the economic growth and the jobs market — the UNEP says, in the near future and for decades to come.
Joseph S. Fusco, vice president of Casella Waste Systems, which owns a recycling facility in Auburn, said green jobs is such a new, fast-growing field that many working in the field have never studied it in school. “We do education ourselves and train people,” Mr. Fusco said. “Twenty years ago, there was no training for the jobs we have today.”
He said that nationally and globally, the green industry is skyrocketing as societies increasingly face the growing problem of limited resources. “That’s where we are as a society,” Mr. Fusco said. “The greatest economic development opportunities in this generation are solving the problems of limited resources. Green jobs are part of that — coming together to create an economy for the 21st century.”
For Casella, 20 percent of its employees work in recycling, he said, and resources management jobs brings it to 25 percent of the company’s entire team. “I define green jobs as any job-related renewal or conservation of resources — paper, metal or the environment at large,” he said. “For us, it goes beyond just recycling. There is so much business in resources renewal. It is the trend — helping people manage resources.”
That includes how to improve manufacturing processing systems to produce less waste, and how to find end uses or markets for complex or different materials like plastics from medical devices that customers would not put in a recycling bin. “We help them find a market for that recycled material,” he said. “It requires a background in engineering studies or an engineering science background.”
Engineers are also needed for jobs like capturing methane gas from landfills and turning it into electricity, he explained. Conversely, jobs in the recycling center require the least amount of formal education, he said.
Paul E. Degnan, general manager of Casella Recycling of Auburn, said about 90 people work in two shifts at the facility. Difficult jobs to fill are drivers, which require a CDL license, and maintenance personnel, which requires mechanical aptitude, he said.