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Recycling Industries Congress showcases recycling’s economic benefits

DEP Secretary Krancer attends 2013 PA Recycling Industries Congress highlighting the economic importance of recycling in the Commonwealth. (From left to right: Mark Pedersen, president of the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association; DEP Secretary Mike Krancer, and Robert Bylone, president and CEO of the PA Recycling Markets Center.)

Pennsylvania’s 2013 Recycling Industries Congress (RIC) was jointly sponsored by PWIA and the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center (RMC). Exhibitors ran the gamut from recycling processors to companies that turn recycled materials into new products such as railroad ties, compost, nursery supplies, paper, flooring, food trays and drywall, among many others.

“It’s quite evident that since 2011, when we held our first Recycling Industries Congress, that we not only have more recycling businesses taking part, but we are also seeing an amazing increase in the sophistication and economic significance of the ventures and enterprises represented,” said Robert Bylone, president and CEO of the RMC.

This year’s event also helped mark the implementation of Pennsylvania’s landmark Covered Device Recycling Act.

As of January 24, disposal of electronic devices such as desktop and laptop computers, computer monitors, computer peripherals and television sets is no longer allowed in landfills and incinerators. Only recyclers certified by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are now permitted to handle their disposal.

The theme of the Recycling Industries Congress was “Serving the Recycling Spectrum: Processing to Products.” The theme called attention to the fact that Pennsylvania’s recycling industries are part of a spectrum, with collection and processing at one end and the manufacture of new products using recycled materials at the other.

PWIA represents private-sector waste haulers and landfill operators as well as recyclers and is the state chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association.

An economic study sponsored by PWIA found that the waste industry in Pennsylvania generated nearly 31,500 jobs and contributed more than $3 billion per year to the Pennsylvania economy in expenditures, purchasing, and spending from industry wages.

A study by the Northeast Recycling Council said 3,803 Pennsylvania 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, while also bringing in gross receipts of $20.6 billion.