Thursday, December 15, 2011

Increased Recycling of Beverage Containers Creates Jobs

CRI Releases New Report, “Returning to Work: Understanding the Domestic Jobs Impacts from Different Methods of Recycling Beverage Containers”

Expansion of Massachusetts’ bottle bill could create as many as 500 jobs in Massachusetts, according to a new study by the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) called, “Returning to Work: Understanding the Domestic Jobs Impacts from Different Methods of Recycling Beverage Containers.” Several studies on jobs and recycling have been released this year, and they all show recycling to be an area of jobs growth even during these difficult times. This study is different because it looks specifically at US jobs related to beverage container recycling. The study authors also created a user-friendly jobs calculator, which is available on CRI’s web site (

A bill to update the state’s current container deposit law has been proposed by Rep. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge) and Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), and has wide support from the public and in the state legislature. The bill would add water, sports drinks like Gatorade, and juices to the existing law.

“The Bottle Bill’s ability to vastly decrease litter and increase recycling is well-known and documented,” said James McCaffrey, Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “The added benefit of increased jobs should provide our state legislators to swiftly enact this badly needed bill.”

This report completely dispels any fears of job losses, said Janet Domenitz, the director of MASSPIRG. “This report is more than a stocking stuffer. It proves what a huge gift updating the bottle bill would be to the economic engine we’re trying to jumpstart in Massachusetts.”

The Sierra Club, MASSPIRG, and many other organizations have been working to pass an update to the bottle bill.

“Expanding the bottle bill is good for our neighborhoods, good for our environment, and good for our pocket book,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This legislation gives us a real opportunity to prevent litter on our streets and in our parks while generating important recycling jobs.”

The study finds that different recycling methods create different numbers of jobs, and deposit-return systems create 11 to 38 times more jobs than a curbside recycling system relative to beverage containers, with the range due to system parameters and system performance.

Prepared by CM Consulting and Sound Resource Management Group, the study examined the three most common U.S. collection methods for beverage containers: beverage container deposit programs; single-family curbside; and multi-family and “enhanced” curbside, which includes community dropoff bins, self-haul and away-from-home collection.

The study explains that the primary driver of jobs in any recycling system is the sheer volume of material entering the system. Container deposit-return (CDR) systems generate dramatically higher volumes of beverage containers than curbside systems, an average of 76 percent recovery in CDR states compared to just 24 percent recovery in non-CDR states.

The secondary driver of container-recycling jobs is the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers needed to collect, sort and transport the materials. CDR systems, in which containers are handled more or less individually, employ an average of 7.34 FTEs per 1,000 tons of containers, while curbside systems require an average of 1.66 FTEs in an automated system and 4.46 FTEs in a manual system.

Glass bottles manufactured in a CDR state have six times more recycled content than bottles made in a state without a container deposit (72 percent vs 12 percent). The study also looked at beverage container recycling using virgin raw materials. It found that ten times more US workers are employed in recycling PET than in producing an equivalent amount of PET resin from virgin raw materials (9.9 FTEs per 1,000 tons of recycled PET vs 0.6 FTEs per 1,000 tons of resin from virgin raw materials).

The report is available for download on the CRI web site: and at

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