Americans like to think they're doing their part to keep the environment clean when they set out plastic containers, glass jars and newspapers by the curb each week for collection.
When it comes to boosting employment, however, a new study suggests that bottle-deposit programs not only result in increased recycling but also create more jobs, according to Waste & Recycling News.
Bottle-deposit programs create 11 to 38 times more jobs than curbside recycling systems for beverage containers, the trade publication notes, citing the report, "Returning to Work: Understanding the Domestic Jobs Impacts From Different Methods of Recycling Beverage Containers."
"We found that if we had a nationwide container deposit program, that would support 90,000 jobs," says Susan Collins, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, which commissioned the study. Collins added that the number relates to just container recycling.
How is that possible? It's simple, really. It takes a lot of people working full time to collect, sort and transport all those recyclables.
Bottle-deposit programs employ an average of 7.3 full-time employees for each 1,000 tons of containers, compared to 1.7 to 4.5 full-time workers for curbside programs, depending on whether an automated or manual collection method is used, the News reports.
According to the Container Recycling Institute, 10 states have bottle-deposit laws on their books, which result in a recovery rate more than three times that of states without deposit requirements.
In undertaking the study, researchers sought to get a better grasp of the extent to which expansion of recycling programs would affect employment. They noted that prior to the study there was insufficient information "about what real jobs can we expect."
Among its findings, the report lists these "Five Facts About Beverage Container Recycling and Jobs":
- Recycling creates more jobs than disposal.
- Deposits create more jobs than curbside recycling relative to beverage containers.
- The more material recovered, the more jobs created.
- Jobs gained from recycling far exceed any jobs lost in virgin extraction, land-filling or domestic manufacturing.
- 800 jobs are essentially exported every year with the export of recyclable polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, plastic.
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