Balancing the Supply and Demand of Recycling

In April, a comprehensive strategy to develop new markets for products made with recycled content was launched by the state. The initiative, called Market for Recyclables: Nebraska's Blueprint for Action, outlines specific steps to foster the development of products that utilize recycled materials.

Clear Directions

The plan has five parts and each part of the plan has multiple strategies:

New product development.

Develop and market new products made from recycled materials.
Create a statewide technical research database that compares performance standards between recycled and non-recycled content products.
Use early market research to find potential new product markets and risks.
Utilize public and private financing for product development research and expansion of manufacturing capacity.
Promote demonstrations of new value-added recycled content products.

Procurement.

Encourage purchasing managers and consumers to buy recycled content products.
Encourage public and private purchasing managers to increase the amount of recycled content purchases.
Encourage the public to become familiar with and purchase recycled content items.
Increase the use of recycled content products by stressing the products' performance advantages.
Develop new purchasing programs to promote buying recycled content products.
Research present and possible public policies which help or hinder the development of markets for recyclable products.

Market information and assistance.

Improve the quality of and access to information about recycling, emphasizing strategies that will help those who market recycled content products.
Provide direct state financial and technical assistance to producers using recycled materials.
Provide consumers with objective and accurate information on recycled content products.

Financial sustainability.

Make certain recycling is sustainable from supply through end markets, with emphasis on financial sustainability.
Provide management assistance to recycling businesses to improve their operations.
Provide recycling entrepreneurs with access to local, venture, state and other financial advisors.
Encourage localization of unique recycled products.
Review existing financial assistance efforts to maximize their effectiveness and increase utilization.

Regionalization.

Encourage cooperative efforts across broad geographic areas.
Provide manufacturers with regional availability of materials.
Increase efforts to promote regional marketing.
Explore the possibility of providing financial assistance based on volume of materials handled, population served and regional cooperation.

"While the number of collection sites and amount of materials recycled in Nebraska continues to grow, the challenge remains to develop markets for those materials," Governor Nelson said in announcing the effort. "This blueprint highlights the important role the recycling industry plays in job creation and economic development, as well as what people may consider to be its more traditional role of maintaining the environment through the preservation and reuse of natural resources."

According to the State Recycling Association, Nebraskans recycled more than 350,000 tons of materials in 1997. The blueprint charts a path to increase end-use demand for recycled products with the goal to stimulate the collection, processing and manufacturing components of recycling to "complete the recycling loop."

Multi-Millions

A 1997 survey conducted by the state's Department of Economic Development chronicled the impact of recycling on the state's economy:

138 public and private recyclers have invested more than $80 million since 1990.
In 1996, capital investment from 104 recyclers was in excess of $42 million.
Capital expenditures by the recycling industry over the next five years is projected to exceed $120 million.
Recycling related jobs totaled 1,224, of which four of every five employees worked for private businesses.

Each year, two state entities the Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Environmental Trust provide $6 million in grants to recycling efforts across the state.

The Energy Office's Ann Selzer is one of 12 members of the state's Recycling Economic Development Advocate Support Team that was created in 1994.

For more information on the state's plan, Blueprint for Action, contact Pat Langan at the Department of Economic Development at 471-3766 in Lincoln, toll free at 800-426-6505 or email langan@ded1.ded.state.ne.us.

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