Groups eye ban on disposal of electronics in landfills
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Recycling 75 percent of the nation’s waste would create nearly 1.5 million jobs by 2030 while significantly reducing pollution, saving water and energy, and building economically strong and healthy communities, according to a new study released this week by leading labor and environmental groups.
The national report,More Jobs, Less Pollution, was released as part of a series of nationwide events celebrating National Recycling Day with events taking place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, Austin, Houston, and Washington, D.C.
“We are thrilled to see the release of this important and comprehensive report,” said Marjorie Griek, executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling. “We are currently looking at legislation that would institute a ban on the disposal of electronic devices in our landfills, which will increase our recycling rate here in Colorado. This would protect our environment from the harmful toxics contained in some electronic devices, and also create more jobs in Colorado in the recycling, reuse, repair and remanufacturing fields.”
The report also shows that, while the vast majority of municipal solid waste nationwide can be readily recycled, re-used, or composted, only 33 percent is currently diverted from disposal, and only 30 percent of the 178 million tons of construction and demolition debris is recycled.
Most waste is still sent to landfills and incinerators. A national recycling and composting goal of 75 percent waste-diversion rate by 2030, would create local jobs, save resources like water, and reduce pollution and other environmental pollutants that harm human health.
“It’s time Colorado stops throwing away jobs and polluting the environment,” says Randy Moorman, lobbyist for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “When it comes to electronic waste such as computers and televisions, we are only recycling about 16 percent. Many of those electronic devices that are not recycled are ending up in our landfills or worse in backyards where toxic chemicals can contaminate our air, water and land. A ban on the disposal of electronic devices in landfills will not only help us clean up the environment, but also encourage more recycling and create jobs here in Colorado.”
By diverting 75 percent of the nation’s waste, including municipal and construction and demolition waste, our nation would reduce emissions by 276 million metric tons by 2030, or the equivalent of eliminating emissions from 72 coal-fired power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road.
“This report’s findings are further proof that we can spur the economy and create good paying jobs with investments in increased recycling and composting,” said Roger Singer, Sierra Club’s senior regional representative, based in Colorado. “We can pay people living wages in an expanded recycling industry and simultaneously help clean up our air and water while decreasing the need for more landfills here in Colorado.”
This coalition of leading labor and environmental groups is dedicated to pushing for an increase in recycling to create good-paying jobs.
“Recycling creates jobs — a national priority. And the best way to ensure that these jobs are safe jobs with family-supporting wages is to honor employees’ rights to form unions and negotiate over wages, benefits and working conditions,” Steve Vairma, president of Teamsters Joint Council 3. “As Colorado and its cities make decisions about how to manage waste, they should invest in good, safe jobs in recycling, composting, and reuse.”
More Jobs, Less Pollution was prepared for the BlueGreen Alliance, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Service Employees International Union, Recycling Works! and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) by the Tellus Institute.
“This effort is one of many alliances between Colorado labor and environmental groups that we are proud to build,” stated Kevin Abels, executive director of FRESC: Good Jobs, Strong Communities. “Colorado is increasing its renewable energy standard and metro Denver is expanding its public transportation system. By expanding our recycling and composting, we can add to that important work of creating quality jobs and greener communities.”