Recycling has many benefits and not just for the planet. Recycling can help keep communities clean, organizations in compliance with their state’s laws, and lighten the overall environmental footprint to stem the effects of climate change.
While recycling laws vary by state, there are fundamental recycling protocols that can be applied nationwide. As the degradation of our planet increases at a rapid pace, recycling is needed now more than ever. Businesses, schools, and other organizations can help do their part by recycling to lighten their environmental footprint.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the recycling rate has increased from 7 percent in 1960 to the current rate of over 35 percent. While we have come a long way since 1960, we have a lot of room for improvement. As the climate crisis rages on with little hope on the horizon, every person and organization in America can do their part by getting educated about recycling and putting implementation programs in place that comply with local laws and regulations.
If your organization does not have a recycling protocol in place, we encourage you to consider the benefits below. We also created a free resource for download that can be hung up around your organization or handed out to employees to clarify what a proper recycling protocol entails.
What is Recycling?
Recycling is the collection and processing of materials that are not considered trash but that could be processed and turned into new useable materials. Some materials that are considered recyclable include plastics, metal cans and aluminum, paper, cardboard, paperboard, glass, construction and demolition (C&D) material, and organic material from municipal solid waste. Polystyrene foam, most commonly known as Styrofoam can actually be recycled in New Jersey, but there are only a few specific centers that process this material.
There are many items that cannot be recycled that sometimes make their way into recycling containers, which causes issues for the community. Some materials that cannot be recycled include food waste, plastic bags, plastic to-go clamshell containers, and hazardous waste.
The rules can certainly be confusing. Plastic bottles can be recycled but not plastic clamshell to-go containers or plastic needles. Because of the nuances of what can and cannot be recycled it is always a good idea to check with your local municipality to understand the rules and laws in your specific area.
Benefits of Recycling
There are many benefits to recycling besides the few that you may already know of, including keeping communities clean and lightening the environmental footprint of organizations. One major benefit of recycling is that it helps create jobs, tax revenues, and wages across the U.S.
Recycling helps to create jobs in the manufacturing and recycling industries in states across the U.S. The national Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study done in 2016 was updated by the EPA and found that in just one year, recycling and reuse activities in the U.S. accounted for 757,000 jobs, $36.6 billion in wages, and $6.7 billion in tax revenues. Broken down, this equates to 1.57 jobs, $76,000 in wages, and $14,101 in tax revenues per 1,000 tons of recycled material.
Other major benefits of recycling include:
- Reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills and incinerators.
- Increase the economic security of communities and states by tapping into a domestic source of materials.
- Conserve natural resources like timber, minerals, water, and others.
- Supports American manufacturing and jobs in other sectors.
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials for products.
- Saves energy.
- Helps keep organizations compliant with local and state recycling laws.
Potential Penalties for Not Recycling in New Jersey
New Jersey enacted the New Jersey Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act in 1987 requiring all businesses and schools in New Jersey to recycle responsibly. Although the law was passed at the state level, enforcement of the law is left to the municipalities and counties. The penalty for not recycling ranges from fines that start at $100 per day for the first three offenses and can go up to $2,000 or more depending on the severity of the issue.
While neglecting to recycle does not carry jail time, a per-day fine is charged that can increase based on the quantity of recyclables put into the trash. On top of that, the per-day fine varies from county to county across the state.
Being proactive about recycling can help save you money and stem the effects of climate change. Click the link below to download our free recycling resource.