Recycling expands in New Mexico and creates jobs
Over the past three years New Mexico has benefited from two pools of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to improve recycling. In August of 2013 the New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) completed a 3 year-long $2.8 million dollar rural and underserved recycling project funded through the Department of Energy’s ARRA Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. The New Mexico Environment Department also received similar federal stimulus funds in 2010.
Utilizing both of these stimulus fund programs, New Mexico developed the Hub and Spoke recycling model and has added 6 new regional recycling processing centers or hubs, improved 2 existing recycling hubs and added more than 40 new drop-off locations or all in rural and underserved areas. Nearly $2 million of NMRC’s grant was directly awarded to sub-recipients to build much-needed collection and processing infrastructure, to include new recycling processing hubs in Otero County, Deming, Thoreau, Raton, Truth or Consequences and Torrance County with improvements made in Silver City and Las Vegas.
In summary the stimulus funds benefitted rural New Mexico as follows:
- Jobs – Sub-recipient grant funds supported vendors and manufacturers of recycling equipment and created jobs in those fields. Additionally, sub-recipients provided in-kind support of staff time and hired new personnel to staff the recycling facilities. These funds created a total of 38 direct jobs and 52 indirect jobs.
- Energy – Sub-recipients began selling recyclables in the second quarter of 2012 and have kept 4,016 tons of material out of landfills to date. Additional energy savings benefits include reduced transportation costs associated with hauling materials to landfills.
- Increased access to markets for recyclables – Grant funding was used to create the Rural Recycling Resources Marketing Cooperative (R3 Coop), which currently has nine members and serves as a broker for smaller community recycling programs. The R3 Coop takes the administrative burden away from small government entities to market recyclables and ensures a fair price for materials by working closely with regional recycling hubs and with end-markets to coordinate efficient transportation.
- Increased value of recycling – Under this project, NMRC conducted a comprehensive study identifying the state of solid waste in New Mexico and related jobs and economic development tools. The study found that in 2010 New Mexicans spent $51 million to bury $168 million worth of valuable recyclables and if the recycling rate in New Mexico increased to the national average of 34 percent, 5,000 new jobs would be created. Thanks to EECBG funding NMRC has provided rural New Mexico communities with over 500 direct technical assistance outreach endeavors over the past three years to help keep valuable recyclables out of landfills.