Recycling is big business, but it's taking a hit from falling commodity prices


It seems that people are taking the reduce-reuse-recycle mantra to heart, especially the recycling part. According to a new economic impact study from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI; Washington, D.C.), the recycling industry accounts for nearly half a million jobs in the United States and generates more than $105 billion annually in economic activity. The study was performed by the independent consulting firm of John Dunham and Associates to explore the size and scope of the U.S. scrap industry and measure its contribution to the economy in terms of employment, tax generation and overall economic benefit.

"Despite the challenging landscape of today's global marketplace, scrap recycling has proven to be a resilient, job-creating and economy-driving industry," said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. "As the first link in the manufacturing chain and as a major exporter, the scrap recycling industry is a leading indicator to the overall health of the U.S. economy. While the last several months have been difficult for commodities, this study suggests hope for a rebound."

The U.S. recycling industry is important because operations are so widespread throughout the country. Total economic activity generated by scrap recycling in the United States is $105.8 billion, making the industry similar in size to the nation's data processing and hosting industry, the dental industry and the automotive repair industry, noted the study. Scrap commodities are among the nation's largest exports by value, with overall exports accounting for 26.7% of the industry's economic activity.
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