University of Wisconsin–Madison

Sustainable and Safe Recycling: Protecting Workers Who Protect the Planet

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2015
Level City or Town
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Environment & Natural Resources, Health, Public Safety
Recycling workers face serious hazards on the job. For long hours, they work with heavy equipment in dangerous situations and deal with an array of unsafe materials (needles, broken glass, etc) that should not be on the recycling line. As a result of these unsafe conditions, recycling workers face above-average injury rates and are sometimes even killed on the job. To ensure safe and dignified recycling jobs, municipal govern- ments must require rigorous health and safety standards in recycling contracts. This report explores the dangers recycling workers face and provides policy recommendations that municipal decision makers should follow to improve industry accountability and health and safety outcomes.

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