Missouri Market Development Program: Economic Benefits of Recycling

The U.S. Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study is a first-of-its-kind study that documents the importance of recycling and reuse to the U.S. economy. The study, commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a number of states, through a cooperative agreement with the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) demonstrates what many have known for a long time — that “Recycling is Working.”

Recycling and reuse create jobs and add value to the economy. Through the Missouri Market Development Program, Missouri data was included in the national study that found the recycling and reused industry to be a significant force in the U.S. economy. The U.S. is home to more than 56,000 recycling and reused establishments that employ over 1.1 million people, generate and annual payroll of nearly $37 billion and gross over $236 billion in annual receipts.

Recycling and reuse stacks up against other major industries. As a driver of economic activity, the recycling and reuse industry compares favorably to other key industries, such as automobile manufacturing and mining. Of particular significance is that recycling far outpaces the waste management industry because recycling adds value to materials, which creates jobs. Recycling also provides a large number of jobs that generally pay above the national wage.

Recycling represents a diverse industry and spurs “downstream” economic impacts. The recycling industry is an elaborate and diverse network of public sector institutions and private companies. Recycling is an integrated system that starts with curbside collection of materials by municipalities, includes processing and brokering of recycled materials, and leads to the manufacture of new products with recycled content. Investments in local recycling and processing, as well as policies and programs that encourage recycling and reuse, spurs significant downstream investment in recycling manufacturing by the private sector and promotes economic growth.

Missouri Economic Information Study

In 2005, The University of Missouri – Columbia’s Truman School of Public Policy completed the Missouri Economic Information Study. This study confirms that recycling activities in Missouri provide important economic benefits over and above environmental benefits.

Complete U.S. REI Study results are available through the National Recycling Coalition.