Quantcast

More Jobs, Less Pollution Report Shows Benefits of Recycling

Energy

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

By Ananda Lee Tan

A new report called More Jobs, Less Pollution shows that a national, 75 percent recycling rate would create nearly 1.5 million new jobs while reducing an amount of climate pollution equal to shutting down 72 coal-fired power plants, or taking 50 million cars off the road. This report, produced for Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), the Teamsters, Blue Green Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and Service Employees International Union, describes the benefits of building a resource recovery economy that creates community jobs with family-supporting wages.

These are jobs we desperately need, and the money to invest in them could easily be redirected from subsidies that are currently being wasted on polluting incinerators and landfills. Simply put, we need to reinvest in recycling, composting, reuse and strategies that move us on the path toward zero waste and climate justice and green jobs.

For a short, informative take on this topic, watch The Story of Broke, which describes how hard-earned taxpayer money props up the “dinosaur economy” where we spend huge amounts of public money to subsidize the biggest polluting corporations in the U.S.

We need to demand that public money supports the future we want to see. Not only does recycling offer a cleaner, safer option for waste than landfilling or incineration, it also takes a lot less energy to manufacture products from recycled material than from newly extracted, material. Reaching a nationwide 75 percent recycling rate would create healthier communities too. Cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland have shown this is achievable, and the state of California has set a statewide recycling goal of 75 percent by 2020.

Burning waste kills jobs, burdens public health and ruins local economies. Cities like Harrisburg, Pa. and Detroit, Mich. are going broke because incinerators are risky investments. Not only are they the most expensive way to make energy—incinerators are the most expensive way to handle waste.

A new GAIA report—Burning Public Money for Dirty Energy—exposes the tax breaks and public money handed to this industry. These subsidies are intended for clean, renewable energy, not a technology that creates more climate and mercury pollution per unit of energy than coal-fired power plants.

And now Congress is poised to make a bad situation worse by gutting the Clean Air Act for some incinerators and cement kilns (HR 2250, HR 2681). Earthjustice estimates the resulting pollution would cause up to 9,000 deaths every year. Congress is also considering a bill (HR 66) to create new tax exemptions for “waste-to-energy” incinerators.

Tell Congress no to bills for dirty energy, and yes to zero waste jobs. Recycling and composting are necessary steps to zero waste and climate justice. We simply need to stop subsidizing polluters, and get busy turning waste into work.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Taylor Jones, RD

Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Logging shown as part of a thinning and restoration effort in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon on Oct. 22, 2014. Oregon Department of Forestry / CC BY 2.0

The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Homes in Washington, DC's Brookland neighborhood were condemned to clear room for a highway in the 1960s. The community fought back. Brig Cabe / DC Public Library

By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia

In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."

Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators outside a Republican presidential debate in Detroit in 2016. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Michigan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against government officials involved in the Flint water crisis Thursday, citing concerns about the investigation they had inherited from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Samara Heisz / iStock / Getty Images

New York state has joined California, West Virginia, Arizona, Mississippi and Maine in ending religious exemptions for parents who prefer not to vaccinate their children, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less