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Recycling for the economy

People who sign up to recycle know they are helping preserve the environment — but they may not realize they also are helping create jobs and balance America’s trade deficit.

“There’s so many reasons to recycle, like conserving natural resources and saving energy,” said Michael Benedetto, vice president and owner of TFC Recycling. “Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees and 17,000 gallons of water.”

Suffolk has contracted with TFC Recycling to provide curbside pickup service to the city’s residents. For a $12 fee each month, the Chesapeake-based company will provide participants with a recycling container similar to the trash containers the city provides most homes. Participants can dump a wide variety of materials into the cans, which then would be picked up twice a month on trash day.

The company is trying to sign up 3,000 residents by Earth Day, April 22. So far, the total signups have been less than half that.

Benedetto said most people recycle because it makes sense for the environment and for energy reduction, but there are less obvious benefits to recycling.

“Recycling creates jobs, and it is actually helping to balance our trade deficit,” Benedetto said. “So much recyclable material gets exported” while products from other countries are imported,” Benedetto said.

In fact, most paper products that wind up at TFC Recycling get shipped to China for processing, Benedetto said. Because many containers that come to America from China would otherwise be going back empty, it actually costs less to ship from Norfolk to China than from Norfolk to Florida.

“Those containers would be shipped back to China empty,” Benedetto said. “Waste paper helps fill that gap.”

In addition, recycling helps create jobs and boosts the local economy. People must be paid to pick up and process recyclables, Benedetto said, and the company pays taxes on the material it sells, putting more cash in local coffers.

“Recycling is a commodity,” Benedetto said. “Recycling has value.”

To register online for curbside recycling, or for more information, visit www.tfcrecycling.com/suffolk. The company now also has a Facebook fan page. Those who sign up for the program do not have to give their billing information until after the 3,000-household threshold is met.

Those without Internet access can call 543-5766 to register, or visit one of the following sign-up events:

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