Special Report

What Your State Will Pay You to Recycle

Hristina Byrnes

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Last year, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation accepted applications for recycling and waste reduction grants worth $4.5 million. The goal is to involve the public to reduce its dependence on landfills. Another program offers money to rural communities with populations of 50,000 or fewer.

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Texas doesn’t offer money directly back to its residents, but it does have a Resource Exchange Network for Eliminating Waste (RENEW). This is a free materials-exchange network that enables industries, businesses, and governmental units to sell surplus materials, by-products, and wastes to people who can reuse them. As a result, more than 1 billion pounds of waste has been recycled since 1989.

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Some cities in Utah have a mandatory recycling program. It is paid for by a garbage service fee in the utility bill. People who need extra pick-ups have to pay an additional amount. Rules about what you can recycle have changed.

Recyclables are usually sent to China for processing, but China no longer wants certain items. The number on the bottom of a container indicates the material used in its production: numbers 1 through 7 on plastic containers are acceptable for recycling.

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Vermont is another generous state, paying 15¢ for containers with alcohol and 5¢ for all others. The drinks covered under the law are beer, malt, mixed wine, liquor, and carbonated soft drinks. The state will take any bottle, can, jar, or carton made of glass, metal, paper, plastic, or a combination of these. Biodegradables are excluded.

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Each county, city, town or regional authority is required to implement recycling programs in order to meet a two-tier recycling goal of 15% or 25% of its municipal solid waste generation. A state income tax credit, equal to 20% of original cost, is available to businesses and people who buy machinery and equipment for processing recyclable materials. A tax credit is also available to taxpayers who run a business that accepts waste motor oil from the public.