USA: Recycling Generates 117 Billion US-Dollar per Year

The recycling industries contribute to USA’s economy according to a study on behalf of Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Inc.

In 2017, the independent economic consulting firm John Dunham & Associates conducted the analysis on the economic impact of the national recycling industries. The study revealed that the branch is responsible for more than 534,500 direct and indirect jobs in the country. Direct jobs include those in facilities that process scrap materials into 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.

In addition, the industry generates more than 13.2 billion US-Dollar in federal, state, and local tax revenue annually. The study also revealed that the scrap recycling industry provides for 0.63 percent of the national’s total economic activity – nearly 117 billion US-Dollar. According to the information, this is making the United States’ scrap recycling industry similar in size to the book publishing industry, the dental industry and the automotive repair industry.

Even the export activities create value: In 2017, more than 40,000 jobs were “directly supported by the export activities associated with the processing and brokerage operations of scrap recyclers operating in the United States”, the authors of the study informed. Were it not for these export markets, “many materials, including post-consumer paper and electronics would probably not be recycled at all simply because there is not sufficient demand for them in the United States”.The authors also emphasized that the national scrap industry is a link in the global supply chain “for the growing demand of all manner of commodities ranging from iron and steel to paper; nonferrous metals such as aluminum, copper, and zinc; plastics; electronics; rubber; and more”.

As reported, in 2016 the industry exported nearly 17.5 billion US-Dollar in commodity-grade scrap products to more than 150 countries, “significantly helping the U.S. balance of trade”. According to the study, in terms of volume “scrap materials are among the nation’s largest commodity exports, in line with other important commodity export products like grain and corn, cotton, timber, and petroleum”.

Foto: O. Kürth

GR 2/2018