Recycling industry growth showcased in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Recycling Industries Congress
called attention to the importance of the recycling industry.
Tim O’Donnell, president of the Pennsylvania Waste Industries
Association (PWIA), and Michele Nestor, chair of the Pennsylvania
Recycling Markets Center (RMC), said the event showed that recycling
has now become an economically important industry in its own
right in Pennsylvania and that the private sector is driving
“Many Pennsylvanians still have an outdated understanding of
recycling,” Nestor said. “The environmental benefits associated
with recycling are well recognized, but less well known is that
recycling represents a growth segment in today’s marketplace.”
O’Donnell said, “Recycling in Pennsylvania has matured into a
real business, a new kind of industry, and one that is growing
in importance to the state’s economy.”
The two said the Recycling Industries Congress, which featured
more than two dozen companies from around the state, helped show
that recycling now encompasses a spectrum of successful and growing
They said the event also demonstrated the connection between
the supply and demand sides in recycling – that jobs are being
created by more than just collecting and processing recyclables;
that jobs are also being created by the use of these recycled
materials to make new products and by the opening up of markets
for these products.
A 2009 study by the Northeast Recycling Council said 3,803 establishments
involved in or reliant on recycling or involved in reuse and
remanufacturing generated 52,316 jobs with an annual payroll
totaling of $2.2 billion in Pennsylvania – while also bringing
in gross receipts of $20.6 billion. A 2007 PWIA economic study
of the private-sector waste industry in Pennsylvania, which overlaps
with recycling, found that the industry generated nearly 31,500
jobs and contributed more than $3 billion a year to the Pennsylvania
economy in expenditures, purchasing, and spending from industry
wages. That impact has almost certainly grown since the study
was finished four years ago.
Nestor and O’Donnell said both studies point to the same new
economic reality of recycling, namely that the recycling industry
is making a strongly positive impact on Pennsylvania’s economy.
They pointed out that while state government played an important
role in the early development of recycling – through mandatory
community recycling laws and program grants – recycling is able
to stand on its own as financially self-sustaining industry.
Both underscored the fact that in the past few years private-sector
companies have invested more than $66 million in Pennsylvania
in new recycling facilities, high-tech sorting and processing
equipment, and a variety of re-use and re-manufacturing ventures.