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About the Recycling Economic Information Study

Comprehensive, national data on the economic impact of recycling and reuse is critical to the continued growth and success of the industry. With the release of the US Recycling Economic Information Study, for the first time, public and private sector decision-makers now have a clear picture of the significant contribution recycling makes to our nation’s economy. The study:

The multi-year REI project utilizes the best available data from 1997-1999. The national study was accomplished through a comprehensive analysis of both existing economic data and reasonable estimates based on targeted surveys of recycling businesses and sophisticated economic modeling. The study allows for sound economic comparisons across different regions and states in the country and establishes an important benchmark of the economic impact of recycling and reuse.

The study calculated three main types of data:

Direct Economic Impacts
The study evaluates economic data for 26 different types of reuse and recycling establishments—from local thrift stores to major paper recycling companies. The study measures several different industry characteristics including the number of establishments, total jobs, annual payroll, annual receipts, and annual throughput (amount of materials collected and processed).

Indirect and Induced Economic Benefits
This includes the professional services (e.g., accounting firms, office supply companies) used by recycling and reuse organizations (or “indirect” impacts) and the money spent by the people who work in the recycling and reuse industry (or “induced” impacts).

Federal, State, and Local Tax Revenues
This includes taxes both directly paid by recycling and reuse establishments and an estimate of those resulting from indirect sources.

The study builds upon other regional and state-specific studies produced in the past, including a groundbreaking assessment of the economic impact of recycling in the northeast in 1994. While informative, previous studies used different, inconsistent methodologies, which made it difficult to compare data from state to state. By using one methodology, for the first time, the national study allows for sound comparisons across different regions and states.

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