Economic Benefits of Recycling
While the environmental benefits of recycling are well known,
the economic benefits of recycling are also significant despite the fact
that they are often overlooked. Simply stated, recycling has encouraged
the growth of an industry and created jobs.
- The recycling industry continues to grow at a rate greater than that
of the economy as a whole. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance,
total employment in the recycling industry from 1967 to 2000 grew by
8.3% annually while total United States employment during the same period
grew by only 2.1% annually.
- The recycling industry also outperformed several major industrial
sectors in regard to gross annual sales as its sales rose by 12.7% annually
during this period. Furthermore, the number of recycling industries
in the United States increased from 8,000 in 1967 to 56,000 in 2000.
These facilities employ 1.1 million people across the country.
- New Jersey’s well-developed recycling industry, which includes
manufacturers of various recycled products, specialized processing facilities
and transporters, is an important segment of the state’s economy.
- New Jersey’s recycling infrastructure includes 17 intermediate
processing facilities for Class A recyclable materials (glass bottles,
metal cans, plastic containers, paper grades), over 100 NJDEP-approved
recycling centers for Class B recyclable materials (concrete rubble,
asphalt debris, wood scrap, scrap tires), and dozens of industrial facilities
including steel mills, foundries and paper mills.
- A recent study conducted by the Northeast Recycling Council and United
States Environmental Protection Agency found that almost 27,000 people
in New Jersey are employed in recycling and reuse establishments and
that total receipts from these establishments are valued at over $5.9
- The NJDEP estimates that nearly 9,000 additional jobs would be created
in New Jersey should the 50% municipal solid waste recycling goal be
- Recycling can save money on disposal costs for generators, especially
- For example, prior to 1995 the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL)
utilized 30 trash dumpsters at its facility. Upon implementing a
comprehensive recycling program, PPPL was able to greatly reduce
the number of trash dumpsters needed at the facility. PPPL now only
needs 7 trash dumpsters. This also resulted in significant cost
savings for the facility in terms of program costs, as well as in
avoided disposal costs.
- For example, a survey conducted by the NJDEP in April 2004 showed
that recycling asphalt debris, concrete rubble, used bricks and
blocks, felled trees and stumps and wood scrap costs significantly
less than disposing of these materials as solid waste.
Average Cost to Recycle
||$5.70 per ton
||$4.85 per ton
|Used bricks and blocks*
|| $5.49 per ton
|Trees and stumps
||$37.69 per ton
||$46.43 per ton
Average Cost of Disposal
|Over $75.00 per ton and can be as high as $98.00 per
| * Several recycling centers
did not charge any fee for the receipt of these recyclable waste materials.
(Survey results based upon 63 respondents.)
- Recycling saves money for manufacturers by reducing energy costs.
In 2001, New Jersey’s recycling efforts saved a total of 128
trillion BTU’s of energy, equal to nearly 17.2% of all energy
used by industry in the state, with a value of $570 million.
- The sale of recycled products is an increasingly important component
of the retail sector and commerce, in general. There are over 1,000
different types of recycled products on the market and due to changes
in technology and increased demand, today’s recycled products
meet the highest quality standards. Recycled products are also more
readily available than ever before and are affordable. By purchasing
recycled products, consumers are helping to create long-term stable
markets for the recyclable materials that are collected from New Jersey
homes, businesses and institutions.
- The economic value of clean air, water and land is significant,
but difficult to quantify. Since recycling plays an important role
in protecting these natural resources it must be attributed an economic
value in this context, as well.
Contact: Steven Rinaldi, NJDEP, Bureau of Recycling and Planning - Steven.Rinaldi@dep.state.nj.us