More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S. shows how a stronger recycling economy would create 1.5 million new jobs in manufacturing, collection, and other careers. If done right, recycling jobs can be quality jobs with family-supporting wages.

Key findings

This study provides strong evidence that an enhanced national recycling and composting strategy in the United States can significantly and sustainably address critical national priorities including climate change, lasting job creation, and improved health. 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: Almost twice as many jobs as the projected 2030 Base Case Scenario, and about 2.7 times as many jobs as exist in 2008. There would be a significant number of additional indirect jobs associated with suppliers to this growing sector, and additional induced jobs from the increased spending by the new workers.
  • 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 emissions from 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.

More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S. was prepared by the Tellus Institute for Blue Green Alliance, Teamsters, SEIU, NRDC, Recycling Works, and GAIA. Read more on recycling and job creation