Reasons to Recycle
I really hope that you recycle. I have often written about recycling as a way to save energy or save natural resources. In other past columns I have lamented new landfills and wasteful habits that are cured by recycling and I’ve even praised the quality of stuff made from recycled materials. There is one more reason that completely trumps these as a reasons for you to either begin or improve your efforts to recycle: recycling creates jobs.
On a per-ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables alone sustain 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration. There are hundreds of thousands of American workers working in collecting, sorting or processing items like bottles, cans, and paper. Add to that another equal number of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs making products using recycled materials as feed-stock and you can begin to see the economic impact of recycling.
The Tulsa area is no different. The M.e.t. staff only has five people, but we employ another ten workers through the private sector who work full-time on M.e.t. contracts. We also employ 120 workers with disabilities at our 13 drop-off centers. I can count another 100 workers in recycling at Tulsa companies like Abitibi, Shikoba, TRI, National Waste, American Waste, Associated Recyclers, Borg Steel, and Vintage Plastics. That is at least 250 jobs in Tulsa alone.
Oklahoma recyclers also produce quite a few jobs. Greenstar in Sand Springs, Saint-Cobain Glass in Sapulpa, Georgia -Pacific Paper in Muskogee, AERT near Grand Lake and Orchids Paper in Pryor employ another 2,000 workers in Northeast Oklahoma. Materials from all over the Midwest are brought to Oklahoma to make manufacturing jobs for our state. It has been estimated that Oklahoma has 5,000 jobs in recycling product manufacturing alone with an annual payroll of $200 million. I would also suspect that many truck drivers have also hauled a few loads, which keeps them employed as well.
Jobs: one of the best reasons I can give you today to recycle. Yes, I would like to eliminate landfills and stop burning so much trash. Yes, I want to save trees and stop mining for metals. I don’t want to live an unsustainable life by wasting precious resources. I like to recycle for all those reasons and more. But in today’s economy and knowing how many people are unemployed, I think we should recycle to help a few more folks get a paycheck.