Man standing by large roll of new brown paper produced from recycled paper and cardboard.

Recycling materials into new products benefits both our environment and our economy. Approximately 37,000 jobs in Minnesota are directly or indirectly supported by the recycling industry. These jobs pay almost $2 billion in wages and add nearly $8.5 billion to Minnesota's economy. Recycling also slows the filling of landfills.

Recycling generates profit. Annually, Minnesota recycling programs collect approximately 2.5 million tons of material worth $690 million.

Not recycling costs money. Another 1.2 million tons of recyclable material is thrown away, but could easily have been recycled for an additional estimated value of $285 million. Instead, it cost Minnesota more than $200 million to put it in landfills.

Recycling saves energy. It takes 90% less energy to make a can from recycled aluminum compared to virgin material. Recycled glass? About 50% less energy. Recycled paper? About 75% less energy (and 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution). Lower energy use mean reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Recycling beverage containers

At the request of the Minnesota Legislature, the MPCA prepared a report in 2014 on how to increase recycling of beverage containers. The report outlines a statewide recycling refund program and its potential financial impacts.

Curbside recycling survey

The MPCA surveyed city and county recycling coordinators in 2012 to better understand how residential curbside recycling programs are structured statewide. The survey sought details on what is collected and how it is collected, with an emphasis on types of plastics.


  • A majority of cities surveyed offer city service contracts – in which cities organize recycling collection – rather than subscription services, where residents arrange collection with private haulers
  • The most prominent collection method is single-stream recycling, in which residents place all recyclables in one container rather than sorting them into two or more categories.
  • More than 93% of communities use the resin identification code to indicate which plastics to recycle.

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