Recycling Can Do More Than Save the Planet
Byline: Recycling by Pete Chism For The Register-Guard
WHEN MOST people think about recycling and reuse, environmental benefits usually come to mind first. Recycling and reuse preserve virgin resources for future generations. They also serve to save energy and reduce pollution.
Somewhat less apparent are the jobs created by this industry.
The National Recycling Coalition recently completed a study on the economic benefits of recycling and reuse. The study includes the first detailed look at the effect of recycling and reuse in terms of jobs, payroll dollars, and the economy as a whole.
The study analyzed the types of businesses that make up the industry. Metals recovery operations and the paper recycling sector traditionally have made up the bulk of positions in the industry. However, new entrepreneurial ventures - including organics composting, plastics and rubber remanufacturing, and construction and demolition recovery operations - have elbowed their way onto the recycling scene.
The reuse sector includes a diverse mix of entities such as thrift and second-hand stores, companies that refurbish used electronics equipment, and companies that reupholster and remanufacture office and home furnishings.
The study determined that 56,061 recycling and reuse businesses employ nearly 1.1 million people located in the United States, generating an annual payroll of $37 billion and $236 billion in annual gross revenue.
The largest sectors represented include:
The paper recycling industry, employing 139,000 people and grossing nearly $49 billion in estimated annual sales;
The steel recycling industry, employing 245,000 people and grossing $62 billion in estimated annual receipts;
The plastics recycling industry, employing 179,000 people and grossing nearly $28 billion in estimated annual revenue. …