Texas group launches statewide recycling study

The Texas Recycling Data Initiative seeks to quantify recycling in the state.

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October 24, 2014

A group called the Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI) has launched a survey that is seeking to quantify the amount of recycling taking place in the state. The TRDI is a partnership between the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) and the Lone Star Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America (TxSWANA). The goal of the survey is 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 initiative also aims to identify recycling industry-associated jobs created. TRDI says the information will allow policymakers to better understand the economic, environmental and policy issues facing Texas businesses, citizens and governmental agencies.

Survey results are expected to be made available to the upcoming Texas legislative session, which begins in January 2015. Survey data will allow the legislature to evaluate the costs and economic benefits of recycling, the group says.

“For Texas, this is truly a game-changing effort because there is currently no comprehensive or statewide information collected on the amount of material recycled in the state,” says Maia Corbitt, STAR executive director. "This means that when it comes to market expansion, infrastructure development and public policy issues, both businesses and government entities are flying blind, and that's not good for Texas or its economy."

"With so many cities and businesses focused on recycling in the state of Texas, this project provides a great opportunity to objectively establish the recycling rate for Texas," says Scott Pasternak, the project manager for Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City, Missouri-based environmental services firm that is overseeing the survey process.

The survey will focus on data from processors and end users of recyclables to prevent double counting. TRDI says it will use a confidential approach to ensure that proprietary business data is protected.

TRDI seeks to measure not just the amount of material being recycled but also the types of material and the places where those materials are being recycled. In addition to tracking traditional recyclables collected, the project will gather data on organics, construction and demolition material, electronics and household hazardous waste.

TRDI adds that the results will highlight what recyclables are undercollected or underprocessed. This information will allow communities to advocate for increased infrastructure and education. In areas where Texas is excelling, the study will validate current recycling efforts and the funding for these programs.

The data also will quantify, for the first time, the number of jobs created by the recycling industry and will highlight the potential for more recycling-related jobs being created in Texas.

The TRDI Steering Committee, comprising stakeholder representatives from the public, private, governmental and nonprofit sectors, underwent a competitive bid process for the survey development and dissemination and retained Burns & McDonnell for the project.

Contributors to the project fund include TxSWANA, STAR, Construction & Demolition Recycling Association, Recycling Council of Texas, Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), Texas Coal Ash Utilization Group, Carton Council, Curbside Value Partnership, Steel Recycling Institute and the American Forest & Paper Association.