An Endless Loop (Craig Douglass on Consumers) | Arkansas Business News

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Someone else will care. This concept represents the opinion of many consumers on recycling. But not at all. There are people in communities across the state who understand the benefits of recycling. And these benefits include protecting public health, conserving natural resources, reducing carbon emissions, improving manufacturing efficiency, and safeguarding our common environment, just to name a few- one.

Making recycling more relevant to everyday consumers requires information, education and messaging that appeals to economic interests – so-called pocket issues like jobs, incomes and community services funded by an expanded tax base. In other words, recycling creates jobs. And it does this in three main ways:

By collecting, processing and preparing recyclable household waste. When you put them in your basket or drop them off at a recycling collection center, they are picked up and transported to material recovery centers where they are sorted, prepared and sold in markets.

By making new products from raw materials or recycled raw materialsmany of which are provided by you.

Through reuse and remanufacturing. This includes, for example, electronic waste such as your old computer or your old printer which can be refurbished and resold at a reduced price to be reused for its original purpose.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists in its Recycling Information and Education Project the number of jobs supported per 1,000 tonnes of product recycled. Among them: electronics, 33 jobs; tires, 11.9; glass, 10.2; plastics, 23.5; paper, 1.7; and aluminum cans, 28.5 jobs. The more we recycle the good stuff, the more jobs are created in these industries and our communities.

There are new things happening for Arkansas recycling.

In April 2021, the Arkansas General Assembly passed and the Governor signed Law 839, which establishes a statewide e-waste recycling program. The program, the first of its kind in the nation, is market-driven and designed to leverage the competitive power of private industry to participate in the statewide recycling mission and, in the case of electronic waste, prevent hazardous chemicals from entering. landfills, at no cost to the state.

Other possibilities include locating glass and plastic recycling plants in Arkansas. These are in the early stages of development. They follow an October announcement of a new manufacturing plant in the Port of Little Rock that will make composite decking and other outdoor products from recycled plastics and wood scraps. Investment of $400 million and 500 jobs by Trex Co. of Winchester, Va., will provide a local market for salvaged wood from Arkansas’ lumber industry and recycled plastics like plastic bags and film packaging.

It will take all of us – individuals, businesses and industries – to participate in recycling to make these entrepreneurial ventures a success for Arkansas and Arkansas jobs.

“Just get rid of it” is another notion that enters the minds of some consumers. But simply tossing used products in the trash and disposing of them in a landfill negates the benefits of recycling. Recycling takes effort, but the appearance of that recycling cart in front of the house shows others on your street that you know what’s what; it is the status of participation and quite simply intelligence. You also get that kind of satisfaction when you drop off things like old electronics, glass, hazardous household chemicals, and plastic grocery bags at a recycling collection center.

Recycling begins with you, the residential consumer, and continues through the profitable sale of recycled materials and products in an open marketplace. And it goes on and on in what could be an endless loop that benefits everyone.

Craig Douglas is executive director of the Pulaski County Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District.