Recycling: Economic and Environmental Benefits

Times are tough both economically and environmentally. With governments, business and households looking for ways to get by on less, it’s hard to imagine an industry that can cut costs, raise revenues, create jobs and protect the environment for future generations. But there is such an industry: recycling. According to a study done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are a number of economic and environmental benefits associated with recycling—some of them obvious, others not so obvious. These benefits are being realized right now in communities that have embraced recycling—just like yours here in Southern California.

Here are some of the ways recycling helps:

Jobs and Economic Development

Hauling, processing and brokering recycled materials presents a number of business opportunities in every city, county and state that embraces recycling. Growth in recyclable collection and processing also boosts industries that manufacture and distribute products made from recycled materials. According to the EPA, the recycling industry pays out nearly $37 billion in wages annually and creates over a million jobs. Best of all, recycling adds value to materials, rather than simply “managing” waste. The EPA also estimated that the recycling industry raised about $12.9 billion in federal, state and local revenues in 2001.

Energy Conservation

With the price of fossil fuels steadily climbing (not to mention the hidden costs of pollution and mining), conserving energy is more important than ever. Compound the issue with America’s aging and overtaxed energy grid, and the value of each kilowatt saved is higher than ever before. Most of the electricity on the grid is provided by base power plants that operate around the clock. But during peak consumption, the grid taps into “peaker” plants that cost exponentially more per hour to run than a coal-fired, nuclear, or hydro-powered plant. And the hotter the summers get, the longer these peakers have to run, and the more we have to pay for our electricity. For example, according to the Star-Ledger, it costs ratepayers about $13 million to keep one peaker plant running in one year.

Recycling paper, plastic and glass uses vastly less energy when compared to virgin materials production. Aluminum cans, for example, saves 95% of the energy that it would take to make an aluminum can from virgin sources. Recycling paper saves on the costs of heavy machinery for harvesting lumber and avoids the industrial waste and emissions produced by paper pulp factories.

Land Conservation

Just like clean water and air, land is a quickly diminishing resource that grows costlier as it grows scarcer. Many cities and counties are under a bonafide landfill crisis—there simply isn’t enough space to put all of our garbage. Recycling keeps waste out of the landfill and helps defray the expanding costs of the indefinite internment of solid waste in America.


As our nation struggles to recover its economic prosperity and preserve its environment, there are no silver bullet solutions. Many pieces of the puzzle will have to come together in order to safeguard the future for our children and grandchildren. Recycling is a big part of that puzzle.

Call Southern California Mobile Shredding today to find out how your business, government agency or residence can help do its part.