- The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has released a new study, conducted by John Dunham & Associates, showing that the industry generates more than $116.97 billion in economic activity every year. This includes all companies involved in the "processing and brokerage of scrap metals, plastics, rubber, paper, textiles, glass and electronics."
- The study also pointed to the creation of an estimated 534,500 jobs (155,630 of those being direct jobs) which paid more than $34.3 million in overall wages.
- According to the study, the industry recycled more than 130 million metric tons of material in 2014. The most recent data shows the industry's overall economic effects were largest in California, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Illinois.
The report coincides with ISRI's annual conference in New Orleans this week and is part of an ongoing effort to highlight the large role that recycling businesses play in the U.S. economy. According to the report, the industry accounts for 0.63% of national economic activity, putting it on a similar level with data processing and hosting, dentistry and auto repair. An interactive tool offers more specific information at the state, congressional district and even municipal level.
Despite this wide reach, previous research commissioned by ISRI has shown that many U.S. residents are still distrustful of basic recycling facts and unaware of how the industry works. Using the economic angle to engage them, as states such as North Carolina have been doing, may help raise recycling participation and attract new candidates to recycling companies. This new ISRI report found that U.S. scrap recycling jobs pay an average salary of $76,515 including benefits.
This activity and potential growth is positive for the industry, though political and international factors have also created recent uncertainty. President Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, which ISRI backed, and recently called for investigations into aluminum and steel trade. As shown by another new ISRI project, the International Scrap Trade Database, any change to this global system could have complicated effects.