Returning to Work: Understanding the Domestic Jobs Impacts from Different Methods of Recycling Beverage Containers

Source: Clarissa Morawski and Jeffrey Morris, Container Recycling Institute, December 2011

While the recycling’s impact on jobs has been the subject of several studies in recent years, Returning to Work is the first report to take into account the vital importance of material quality, throughput quantities, processing dynamics and end-user needs to analyze the net gains in domestic jobs when beverage containers are recovered through recycling.

The project’s primary goals were to:
– Measure the impacts on domestic jobs from increased recycling of beverage containers through container deposit-return (CDR) programs compared to curbside recycling or landfill disposal.
– Provide transparent employment data for each level of the recycling or disposal process (i.e., collection, hauling, processing and recovery or landfill disposal).
– Identify aspects of the recycling process that yield substantial jobs growth when beverage container recycling grows.
– Provide a report describing how improved diversion boosts U.S. jobs.
– Create a simple model that estimates, on a state-by-state basis, jobs growth from the increased recovery and recycling of beverage containers.

The research identified jobs increases and jobs decreases for three recycling options: container deposit-return (CDR); single-family curbside collection (automated as well as manual); and enhanced curbside (curbside programs augmented by additional programs targeting away-from-home containers as well as households without access to curbside collection).

The project team gathered data and information from existing reports and articles, interviews with companies in the supply chain of beverage container manufacturing, and interviews with companies handling beverage container discards for recycling or disposal. This information yielded estimates for full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs associated with beverage containers recycled as well as those lost to disposal. Jobs estimates were normalized on the basis of FTEs per 1,000 tons of PET, glass or aluminum containers handled.

The project team then used these estimates to create a user-friendly, Excel-based calculating tool called MIRJCalc, which stands for “Measuring the Impacts from Recycling on Jobs Calculator.”…

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