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 means 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.
- Minnesota compost facility locator – All of the permitted large composting facilities that are producing compost
- Recycling market development – MPCA offers technical, financial, and marketing assistance to Minnesota businesses looking develop uses for recycled materials.
- Minnesota Materials Exchange connects businesses that have reusable goods with those who can use them.