NEW YORK The U.S. recycling industry generates more than $87 billion in economic activity annually and provides nearly 463,000 jobs, according to a new study commissioned by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.
An economic impact study covering all forms of recycling, including metals, electronics, plastics, paper, rubber, glass and textiles, showed that the industry generates $87.4 billion in economic activity annually while employing 137,970 people directly along with 131,917 supplier jobs and 193,053 induced jobs.
The study, conducted by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based John Dunham & Associates Inc., estimated that the industry provides revenue of nearly $4 billion in state and local taxes and $6.3 billion in federal taxes paid by companies and their employees.
A better part of a summary report released by Dunham & Associates focused on highlighting the industrys impact through its exports, an issue that continues to attract a lot of consumer, environmental and political attention.
Dunham & Associates said scrap commodities figure among the countrys largest exports by value and account for 39 percent of the recycling industrys economic activity.
U.S. scrap exports to about 160 countries netted $27.8 billion in sales in 2012, it said, generating $33.9 billion in total economic benefits, including $1.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $1.6 billion in state and local taxes.
Directly addressing concerns about exports, Dunham said that international trade is an integral part of the U.S. economy, with nearly $2.2 trillion in total goods and services exported from the United States in 2012.
"To suggest that the export of recycled commodities would somehow destroy jobs in the United States is no different than stating that the export of corn, or of coal or of cotton, somehow takes away American jobs," it said.
ISRI president Robin Wiener said the economic impact study shows the scrap recycling industry serves as an economic driver for the United States, a job creator, and major exporter. "At a time when the national job market is fragile, the recycling industry is creating high-quality, good-paying opportunities for Americans. This in turn feeds money back into the economy through spending and revenue generated from taxes," she said.