Arizona Incubator Focuses on Recycling Economies

Another incubator will soon open to help budding sustainability entrepreneurs – this one, in Phoenix, focuses specifically on recycling businesses.

Sited at Arizona State University, the Center for Resource Intelligence will demonstrate an interesting twist on how to help green entrepreneurs, while creating local jobs and economic value. Entrepreneurs will develop on-the-ground projects with businesses and local governments that not only prove their business models but also create revenue-generating opportunities that reduce the local wastestream.

Phoenix expects that additional 10-25% of its solid waste will be diverted from landfilling through the effort.

Seed money provided by the city of Phoenix will fund the incubator’s initial focus on creating value, economic opportunity and jobs out of waste streams.

Recycling Bins

The seed investment "will allow the Center for Resource Intelligence to develop a large network of organizations in the Valley and potentially around the globe that can collaborate to help achieve the levels of resource effectiveness required for 9 billion people to live well on the planet by 2050,” says Dan O’Neill, general manager for Sustainability Solutions Services, which is managing the incubator.

The ultimate goal is to develop a network of public and private entities that provide research, development, education and solution services to more effectively manage resources while creating economic value. Industries ranging from energy, water, resource extraction, product development, manufacturing and recycling have signed on to collaborate. 

The $500 billion recycling industry is one of the most important in the world, employing more people than any other industry except agriculture, according to author Adam Minter in Junkyard Planet.

Instead of exporting most of our scrap to China, the US needs a national recycling plan to recover more than the current 34.1% of waste (two-thirds still landfilled or incinerated) and incentives for local recyclers to make use of the waste. 

Manufacturing and disposing of the vast quantity of products used in the US accounts for 42% of US greenhouse gas emissions, way more than transportation (20%) and agriculture (20%).

Achieving a national recycling rate of 75% would create 2.3 million jobs by 2030, reduce greenhouse gas pollution (recycling uses much less energy than mining) which also improves public health, and generate strong local economies.
San Francisco has achieved an 80% recycling rate, the highest in the US.

Read our backgrounder on the Recycling Industry.

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Comments on “Arizona Incubator Focuses on Recycling Economies”

  1. Irwin Sheinbein

    I have been in the Scrap fiber and metal recycling business, full time, since 1972. In order to fully understand the economics of recycling, it is imperative that the incubator gets input from people in all areas of recycling. I would be interested in providing whatever information and or suggestions to this group.

  2. Blake Jacks

    I own apartments all throughout the valley and would love to see more systems and effort put in to recycling plans for apartments. There are different obstacles that need to be addressed due to trash shoots, dumpsters, etc.


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