SOURCE: Burns & McDonnell

February 19, 2015 10:15 ET

Texas Recycling Data Initiative Report Provides Baseline for Future Recycling Progress in Texas

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwired - Feb 19, 2015) - For the first time ever, Texans have a better understanding of how much material they are recycling. Years of hard work and perseverance have paid off with the release of the Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI) report, which quantifies the amount of recycling that occurred in Texas in 2013 and establishes a baseline recycling rate to measure future progress.

This study utilized a voluntary, collaborative, and confidential approach to gather data from hundreds of processors and end users of recyclable material generated in Texas, making it the first of its kind in the state.

"The TRDI process was uniquely collaborative, representing a broad and diverse spectrum of industry representatives," said Thomas Baker, President of the Recycling Council of Texas, a group who represents metal recyclers in Texas. "This study shows that industry is ready to build markets and grow recycling in Texas."

TRDI is led by a partnership between the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) and the Lone Star Chapter of the Texas Solid Waste Association of North America (TxSWANA), who started working on the groundbreaking effort in 2011.

The results from the TRDI report are intended to give Texas policy makers the information they need to examine the economic, environmental, and policy issues of interest to Texas businesses, citizens, and governmental agencies.

The study accounted for traditional recyclable materials, such as glass, metals, paper and plastics, as well as other categories that included organics, construction and demolition materials, electronics and household hazardous waste. The study also identified three select material streams from non-MSW (municipal solid waste) sources, including coal combustion products, non-MSW ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and organic materials.

According to the TRDI report, approximately 6.1 million tons of material from MSW sources were recycled in 2013, the majority of which was construction and demolition material, paper, and yard trimmings (see figure 1). Based on the tons of material recycled and the state disposal data, the baseline MSW recycling rate for 2013 is 18.9 percent.

"While the overall survey response rate was very positive, we did not receive data from all processors. Since the TRDI utilized a rigorous methodology that did not allow for extrapolation or filling data gaps, the 18.9 percent recycling rate is conservative," said Scott Pasternak, Project Manager from Burns and McDonnell, the consulting firm that completed the report.

In addition to quantifying the amount of material recycled, TRDI also provided data on the economic impact the industry has in Texas. Recycling is an activity that makes use of locally generated raw material resources, and it helps boost local economies by creating jobs and building end markets.

TRDI estimates that processing materials recovered from the MSW stream to prepare them for use by recycling manufacturers supports more than 12,500 jobs in Texas. This figure shows the direct and tangible economic benefit that recycling contributes to Texas and its communities.

"The material in our recycling bins is the next big resource boom for Texas," said Maia Corbitt, STAR Executive Director. "This information demonstrates that we are moving feedstock to markets -- something Texas has excelled at since cattle drives."

The intent of the survey is to be repeated every two years in front of the next state legislative session in order to measure progress and to make the case for increased recycling infrastructure and educational outreach in communities across Texas.

"We (solid waste professionals) are all very excited to finally get official data to show the recycle rate in Texas," said Ellen Smyth, President of TxSWANA and Director of Environmental Services at the City of El Paso. "Now we can move forward to improve our programs knowing what the baseline is."

The complete report is available at www.recyclingstar.org/cause/trdi.

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