Economic Benefits of Recycling at All-time High, Study Shows

Alexandria, VA - Despite a nationwide economic slowdown, the financial and employment benefits of the recycling industry appear to be at an all-time high, according to a new study released by the National Recycling Coalition (NRC).

While the environmental benefits of recycling are well known, the National Recycling Economic Information Study, conducted for the NRC by the consulting firm R. W. Beck, Inc. and commissioned by the U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency, provides the first definitive evidence of recycling's contributions to the national economy. "This study proves that recycling is making a direct, positive contribution to our national economy," says Kate Krebs, NRC acting executive director.

According to the study, the recycling industry employs 1.1 million people nationwide, generating an annual payroll of $37 billion and grossing $236 billion in annual sales. This is comparable to the size of the auto and truck manufacturing industry and is significantly larger than either the mining or waste management/disposal industries. Wages for recycling workers are notably higher than the national average for all industries.

More than 56,000 public and private sector recycling facilities recover and transform discarded materials into useful products of considerable value. "Returning commodities to the stream of commerce is a value-adding, job-providing, and economy-spurring activity," says Jonathan Burgiel, national director of solid waste management services for R. W. Beck, Inc. and project manager of the study.

Study highlights and the full report are available now on NRC's website at or by calling (703) 683-9025. The study results will also be discussed in-depth during sessions at NRC's Annual Congress & Exposition in Seattle, Washington, January 13-16, 2002.

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