Will Sagar with the Southeast Recycling Development Council told WLBT-TV that what some people see as smashed aluminum cans, the industry sees as big business.
"It's about creating a different shade of green and that's the one on the dollar bill," Sagar said.
Sagar says Mississippi is seeing documented job growth in the green industry despite economic hardships. That growth he says is helping push economic development.
"Recycling is more than just an environmental movement," he said.
Currently, there are 250 recycling businesses across Mississippi. Nine of them are manufacturing facilities. There are an estimated 7,000 jobs associated with recycling.
And Poncho James, president of the Mississippi Recycling Coalition and vice president of a recycling center in Sumrall, is in the middle of it.
"The dollar signs are amazing," James said. "I think my company ... we were doing $15 million, $16 million a year. We're just a small part of this."
James said technology is helping to increase the industry's impact, but it comes down to getting everyone on the same page.
"Making recycling easy is the key," he said.
That is the hard part, said Mark Williams with the Recycling Coalition, especially with no statewide system for collection.
"We have large rural areas of the state," Williams said. "The success of recycling is trying to build the volume of recyclables that are collected and to put together a quality product."
With much of corporate America moving toward sustainability and recycled goods, Williams said Mississippi already has a recycling foundation and it is time to build on it and benefit from it.
"This is an industry that we need to recruit like any other industry to Mississippi," he said.