Here’s a good one. In a week when U.S. citizens have suffered through a mountain of trash talk, our nation’s recycling leaders are gathering in Washington, D.C. If only we could toss out all the waste so the recyclers could collect it and turn it into something useful.
Seriously, as the recyclers head to D.C. they’re carrying an important message: The nation’s industrial, commercial and residential recycling infrastructure is working both environmentally and economically. All that’s needed, they say, are a few minor policy fixes and ratification of the trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
That’s what Robin Wiener reported. She is president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. The organization represents more than 1,300 companies in all aspects of the recycling chain.
According to Wiener, the recycling industry has tremendous economic reach. It touches nearly every congressional district. Here in Kearney, our municipal government supports an aggressive recycling program that works in concert with households, local businesses and manufacturers.
Several factories employ recycling to trim expenses. They are careful to limit the waste, and they find markets where the waste can be recycled and re-used. Even newsprint is recycled.
If you don’t think you’re a recycler, think again. Every time you get an oil change or buy new tires, what you’re throwing away — used oil and worn out tires — is finding its way to recyclers.
There are numerous benefits to these and other recycling efforts, but they all seem to center around two themes: saving our Earth and making a buck.
Conserving and recycling help the planet and it’s good for the bottom line. According to Wiener, in 2018, the recycling industry produced more than 530,000 jobs in the U.S., $33.4 billion in wages and contributed nearly $110 billion in economic output annually. Major industries in the manufacturing sector — including steel mills, foundries, paper mills, consumer-packaged goods producers and plastics formulators — rely on recycled materials as key feedstock.
Recycling leaders will be pushing the same message U.S. farmers have been pushing in Washington: They need access to foreign markets.
Recyclers want an end to the trade war so they can pursue agreements overseas in prime markets for materials U.S. industries would prefer to sell rather than plow into a landfill.
Ratifying the USMCA — the pact that updates NAFTA — could create 134,000 jobs in the recycling industry. We in farm country also foresee more jobs if USMCA is ratified.
So let’s get with it, lawmakers. If you can’t quit wasting time and produce results, we might just send you to the dump.