Today, in honor of America Recycles Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing significant findings on the economic benefits of the recycling industry with an update to the national Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study. This study analyzes the numbers of jobs, wages and tax revenues attributed to recycling.
Recycling is a key element of Sustainable Materials Management (SMM), a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. SMM represents a global shift in the use of natural resources and environmental protection. America’s recycling and reuse activities accounted for 757,000 jobs, produced $36.6 billion in wages and generated $6.7 billion in tax revenues in 2007, based on the most recent census data. This equates to 1.57 jobs for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled. For this update, the Agency used a revised waste input-output methodology that focuses on the life cycle of materials, and defining recycling.
“Recycling is not only an asset to our environmental and social goals, but a boost to our economy,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator to the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “America’s great strides toward prioritizing recycling are evident. We’ve educated our communities, citizens and businesses to recycle more, quadrupling our recycling rate since 1976 and creating a more sustainable world.”
The national recycling rate has more than quadrupled from 7 to 34 percent since 1976, and the slogan Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has become a well-used phrase in American life. Recycling bins are now common in our homes, schools and work places; restaurants are composting their food waste and businesses are working with communities to offer consumers reuse and recycling opportunities. As we continue to reduce, reuse and recycle, we are evolving our resource conservation efforts to use materials in the most productive way, with an emphasis on using less and advancing a circular economy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that global demand for materials will increase by more than 35 percent over the next 15 years, reaching 100 billion metric tons per year. One half to three quarters of annual raw material inputs to industrial economies are returned as waste to the environment within a year.
Americans can continue to lift the national economy by recognizing the value of materials and improving their recycling practices. In honor of today’s celebration, President Obama signed a proclamation to celebrate how far our nation has come and to urge all Americans to continue finding new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. This America Recycles Day, EPA encourages everyone make a difference for the environment and incorporate more recycling into their daily routines. EPA is launching the Materials Management Wizard to make it easier for individuals and organizations to find EPA sustainability tools and resources: https://www.epa.gov/sustainability/mwiz.
The Agency provides a variety of resources to help citizens and businesses get involved:
- Donate and recycle your used electronics: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling
- Learn how to recycle common household items and calculate how much energy recycling saves: https://epa.gov/recycle
- Recycle used oil from your vehicle’s recent tune up: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/managing-reusing-and-recycling-used-oil
- Read more about what you can do to reduce waste: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-waste-what-you-can-do
- Join EPA’s WasteWise program: https://www.epa.gov/smm/wastewise
- Track your organization’s waste and materials use with the Energy Star Portfolio Manager: https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/owners_and_managers/existing_buildings/use_portfolio_manager/track_waste_materials
For Teachers and Parents:
- Share the “Story of Reuse” to spread the word about the benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyzQkL1jCAg
- Teach your children and students to create less waste with Planet Protector activities: https://www.epa.gov/students/planet-protectors-activities-kids