The environmental benefits of recycling have been extolled frequently by sustainable leaders, but a report shows the United States could make more economic headway if it were to increase the percentage of municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition debris (C&D) it recycles.
The "More Jobs: Less Pollution" study, prepared by the Tellus Institute with Sound Resource Management on behalf of six prominent sustainability advocacy groups, reported that only 33 percent of the country's MSW is diverted from disposal. If the country were to recycle as much as 75 percent of its MSW and C&D by 2030, it would directly create more than 2.3 million environmental jobs in each of those sectors, said the report.
That would be roughly 1.5 million more MSW and C&D jobs than were associated with the recycling industry in 2008, when 861,000 individuals were responsible for recycling management.
"Transforming the 'waste sector' into a 'materials management sector' will create more jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and lower other types of pollution and related public health consequences," said the report.
Green Jobs: Professional Certification for Municipal Solid Waste and Construction and Demolition
Even at current rates of diversion, qualified waste management professionals remain in-demand for MSW and C&D positions. Individuals can increase their qualifications for these environmental jobs by securing training and credentials from reputable organizations.
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is one of the country's top institutions for granting waste management credentials, and many public and private employers look highly on individuals with SWANA credentials. The organization hosts training and accreditation testing for both the MSW and C&D sectors.
There are other organization that offer similar educational opportunities. WasteCap Resource Solutions is one of the more prominent non-SWANA providers of C&D accreditation.