Study shows the recycling industry is a ‘powerful force’ in US economy

Recycling continues to power the American economy based on a new study conducted by John Dunham & Associates, New York, and released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington. In addition to its positive environmental benefits, the recycling industry is responsible for more than 531,500 jobs and an overall economic impact of nearly $110 billion, ISRI reports in a news release.

“The recycling industry continues to power America’s manufacturing base, creating jobs, generating tax revenue and proving valuable feedstock for new products,” says Joe Pickard, chief economist for ISRI. “In the U.S., we continue to process more material into valuable commodities, 70 percent of which is used right here by American manufacturers. With the innovation and new technologies coming online, this trend is expected to continue upward.”

The study found that in 2019, more than 164,000 jobs are being directly supported by the recycling and brokerage operations of the U.S. scrap industry. An additional 367,300 jobs are indirectly supported by the industry through suppliers and the indirect impact of the industry’s expenditures. The indirect jobs include thousands of people in other sectors, including servers in restaurants, construction workers, teachers and other professionals, ISRI reports.

The $110 billion economic impact puts the recycling industry on par with the radio and television broadcasting, the building services and the warehousing and storage industries. It includes the roughly $4.94 billion in state and local tax revenues generated along with another $7.96 billion federal taxes.

A full breakdown of the study results, including economic impact by state, congressional district, state legislative district and selected cities, is available at