Fri March 31, 2017

The economic impact that consumers have when they toss their bottles into their blue bins and haul them out to the curb every week is routinely overlooked. Recycling has an environmental impact for sure, but it also makes a difference in the lives of workers who are the lifeblood of the recycling and plastics industries. Put simply, your bottle means jobs.

This simple fact is the cornerstone of the appropriately-titled Your Bottle Means Jobs (YBMJ) campaign, which the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) has eagerly supported. The initiative has chosen the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina to launch its inaugural effort to increase recycling by getting residents to pledge to recycle two extra bottles per week. According to the group, if every household in North Carolina and South Carolina did just that, it could create 300 new jobs.

YBMJ also notes how, in the Carolinas, recycling has a positive impact on the local economy. Right now, the group notes, there aren’t enough plastic bottles being recycled locally to provide the materials necessary for local manufacturers to make their products. This means that 75 percent of these materials are being purchased from elsewhere in the U.S. or overseas.

Local action like the kind promoted by YBMJ doesn’t simply benefit manufacturers by improving their access to resources in their own towns; it also gives consumers a reason to care beyond some of the more common, but no less important, environmental platitudes that people might cite when asked why they recycle. Now, in addition to recycling to help the environment or prevent litter, consumers can say they recycle to help their community, and hopefully see the role they play in helping their friends and neighbors get and keep their jobs just by recycling plastics. YBMJ aims to make it clear that every recycler is a job creator, which is the kind of thinking that PLASTICS and the entire industry can get behind.