US Recycling Industry Generates $105bn Annually

scrap recycling

by | May 27, 2015

scrap recyclingThe scrap recycling industry in the US generates more than $105 billion annually in economic activity and accounts for nearly half a million jobs, according to a study released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

The study was performed by the independent consulting firm of John Dunham and Associates to explore the size and scope of the scrap industry in the US, and measure its contribution to the economy in terms of employment, tax generation, and overall economic benefit.

According to the report, the recycling industry is responsible for 471,587 direct and indirect jobs in the US. This includes 149,010 direct jobs that pay an average of $77,153 in wages and benefits. Direct jobs include those in facilities that process scrap materials into new, usable commodities. Indirect jobs come from those that supply machinery, equipment and services to processors, and the wages and taxes paid by the scrap recyclers to their workers and suppliers.

Other highlights of the study include:

  • The industry generates about $4.4 billion in state and local revenues annually, and another $6.8 billion in federal taxes are paid each year by the industry and its employees.
  • The scrap recycling industry provides for 0.68 percent of the national’s total economic activity, making it similar in size to the country’s data processing and hosting, dental, and automotive repair industries.
  • Exports account for 26.8 percent of the industry’s economic activity, creating roughly 125,276 jobs.
  • Export activity generates $28.3 billion in economic benefits, including $1.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $1.7 billion in state and local taxes.

In 2013, the EPA began allowing facilities to recycle plastics separated from automobile shredder residue, after the ISRI lobbied the agency to reconsider its existing regulations.

At the time the ISRI said the industry generates 1 million to 2 million tons of automobile shredder residue plastics, most of which could be recycled.

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