New study: Recycling industry a powerful force in US economy

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30Recycling continues to power the US economy. In addition to its positive environmental benefits, the recycling industry is responsible for more than 531,500 jobs and an overall economic impact of nearly USD110 billion, says a new study conducted by John Dunham and Associates and released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

“The recycling industry continues to power America’s manufacturing base, creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and proving valuable feedstock for new products,” summarizes Joe Pickard, chief economist for ISRI. “In the US, we continue to process more material into valuable commodities, 7% of which is used right here by American manufacturers. With the innovation and new technologies coming online, this trend is expected to continue upward.”

The study found that in 2019, 164,154 jobs are being directly supported by the recycling and brokerage operations of the scrap industry in the US. In addition, 367,356 jobs are indirectly supported by the industry through suppliers and the indirect impact of the industry’s expenditures. The indirect jobs include thousands of people in other sectors such as servers in restaurants, construction workers, teachers, and other professionals.

“Most importantly, this study reinforces the strength and resiliency of the scrap recycling industry,” says Pickard. “Recycling has always been based on supply and demand. Yet, at no other time have there been such fluctuations in global market conditions and demand for the high-quality scrap produced by the US. The fact that the industry is responding to these outside forces, and remaining an economic force is a testament to its ability to adapt and a strong workforce.”

The USD110 billion economic impact puts the recycling industry on par with the radio and television broadcasting, building services, and warehousing and storage industries. It includes the roughly USD4.94 billion in state and local tax revenues generated along with another USD7.96 billion federal taxes.

A full breakdown of the study, including the economic impact by state, congressional district, state legislative district, and selected cities is available for further research (go to isri.org). Information includes overall impact, wages, and economic benefits of exports.

 

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