Healthy recycling markets divert materials from the waste stream, convert the materials into commodities, and supply them to manufacturers for the production of new products. The businesses that process and use those commodities are critical to the system. In fact, without businesses that use recyclable material to make products, we can't have recycling. Recycling market development works to expand these end markets to boost the demand for recycled materials.
The closing of some large overseas markets for recyclables has placed added pressure on Minnesota recycling processors that must now sell domestically. Strong end markets exist for some recycled commodities, but not all. The MPCA is working with recycling processors, manufacturers, private sector associations, and other government agencies to build strong recycling markets and capture more useable material from the waste stream. The strategies include:
- Investing in local processors that prepare collected material for end markets
- Increasing the number of businesses that use recycled materials in their manufacturing process
- Reducing contamination in the recycling stream from dirty or non-recyclable material by effectively educating residents and businesses
- Driving increased recycling through smart policies, sustainable purchasing practices, business and research partnerships, and robust collection and processing systems
Market development benefits
- Economic and job growth: Supporting markets for recyclable materials also supports economic growth and job creation in hauling, processing, and manufacturing sectors. Recycling currently supports an estimated 36,000 jobs in the state (2015 data).
- Material recovery: Recycling recovers valuable material that would otherwise be filling landfills and fueling garbage incinerators. When those useable materials are destroyed, the energy used to make them is also wasted.
- Energy savings and climate mitigation: In most cases, it takes less energy to make a product from recycled material than from newly mined or harvested raw material. Less energy output means lower greenhouse gas emissions. Using recycled materials can also help us avoid the environmental impacts from sourcing raw materials.
- Sustainable businesses: As more manufacturers move toward socially and ethically responsible practices, using recyclable materials is one way for companies to become more sustainable.