AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has released its Recycling Market Development Plan (RMDP) — designed as a tool and resource for strategy implementation — which was completed in August by Burns & McDonnell and Circular Matters.
A statewide survey showed approximately 12.9 million tons of recycled municipal solid waste (MSW) material in 2019, which represents 3.7 million more tons of recycled MSW in comparison to results in the state’s 2015 Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling (SEIR). The overall impact of recycling MSW on the Texas economy exceeded $4.8 billion in 2019.
“Our vision for this plan was for it to build from prior statewide initiatives and to serve as a resource to help communities and businesses across Texas better understand how to improve recycling markets in the state,” says Scott Pasternak, an environmental department manager for Burns & McDonnell in Austin. “The plan strongly connects how recycling efforts in Texas are generating economic opportunities across the state, now and far into the future.”
The plan provides a detailed analysis of the current state of recycling in Texas, including tonnages, economic impacts, and material- and commodity-specific market conditions — as well as barriers to and opportunities for increased recycling. The RMDP also presents a strategy and recommendations to stimulate increased use of Texas-generated recycled material feedstocks.
The plan includes detailed recycling data collected from municipalities, private operators and others, examining a wide range of materials, including:
- Typical recyclables: Glass, metals, paper and plastics
- Organic materials: Biosolids, food and beverage materials, yard waste, brush and green waste
- Other materials: Batteries, construction and demolition debris, electronic waste, textiles, tires and paint
In 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 649, which directed the TCEQ to develop a plan to stimulate the use of recycled material feedstocks in processing and manufacturing.
TCEQ contracted with Burns & McDonnell to conduct a study on the promotion of recyclable materials as feedstock in processing and manufacturing, as well as to produce a comprehensive plan, educational suggestions and materials and other activities that meet the requirements included in Senate Bill 649.
The RMDP provides value to a range of stakeholders within Texas and outside of the state —including organizations tasked with recycling market development in Texas, businesses seeking recycling-related data and opportunity in the state, and entities preparing recycling market development strategies in other states or regions.
Among economic benefits generated for the state by MSW recycling in 2019, according to the study:
- Nearly 23,000 person-years of direct, indirect and induced employment supported.
- An overall impact on the Texas economy exceeding $4.8 billion. This puts the recycling industry on par with both the petroleum and furniture industries in Texas.
The RMDP’s approach to achieving recycling market development is two-pronged in nature. The first prong is a set of general (cross-material) strategies that expand the state’s capacity to promote recycling market development. The second prong is a set of material-specific strategies that seek to capitalize on opportunities benefiting individual priority materials.
The RMDP is available at https://www.tceq.texas.gov/p2/recycle/recyclable-materials-feedstock-study.
Burns & McDonnell is the No. 2 design firm in the Texas & Louisiana region and among the top 20% of environmental firms by revenue, according to Engineering News-Record.
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