Recycling in Texas... an update

Last month we had the opportunity to attend a National Resource Recycling Conference in Austin, TX. Businesses and municipal leaders from all over the country came together to discuss the current state of recycling and where it is going.

Highlights: 
Texans produced 47 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2019.... of this material, approx. 12.7 million tons were recycled at a rate of 27.5%. This recycling had an impact of $4.8 billion on the Texas Economy and provided 22,910 jobs. This means that the recycling industry in Texas is on par with the petroleum refining sector and the furniture manufacturing sector.

In 2019 the Texas legislature mandated the study and completion of a Recycling Market Development Plan. This 300+ page plan was completed in August of 2022 and will be presented to the Texas state legislature when they are in session in January of 2023.

Recycling Market Development Plan (texas.gov)

To sum it up, Texas is approaching recycling from an economic perspective not necessarily an ecological perspective. While the ecological impacts are substantial, Texas policymakers are focused on bringing jobs and economies of scale to Texas. By growing the demand for recyclable materials and recycled-content products while at the same time increasing tonnage, improving quality, and enhancing affordability Texas could become a leader in the Material Recovery Industry in the US.

Texas currently generates 10% of the solid waste in the nation and is the 10th largest economy in the world. Imagine what growth in the economy we could see if this Recycling Market Development Plan was put into action and just 20% more of the municipal solid waste that was collected could be processed or sold.