Our cities’ waste and recycling systems are hopelessly out of date, failing to address the imperative to create high quality jobs in urban areas and the urgent need to address local environmental injustice and impending climate change. When labor, community, environmental justice and climate justice leaders work together, they can make real change that maximizes outcomes on both levels. That was the message delivered by the Partnership’s Deputy Director, Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel, at the Labor Leaders’ Climate Forum organized by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute.
About 30 labor and environmental leaders gathered in New York at this year’s retreat, focusing on the need to develop a shared understanding and a stronger movement to forestall climate change. Revitalizing waste and recycling systems provides a unique and exciting set of opportunities. The jobs are intensely local and not easily outsourced. Recycling creates more jobs than landfills or incinerators, but those jobs tend to be low-quality. Local governments can take action to reshape the waste and recycling industry in their region, leveraging better quality jobs, higher diversion rates, reduced pollution impacts, and better quality of life for low-income communities. By taking recyclable materials out of the landfill and reusing them, greenhouse gas emissions can be substantially reduced.
It’s a recipe for success, and emblematic of the Partnership’s commitment to building coalitions that cut across traditional stakeholder silos and advancing agendas that position all our communities to do better.