Reports quantify economic impact of plastics, recycling

Reports quantify economic power of plastics and recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Two recent reports from major trade associations are helping to show the broad implications the plastics and recycling industries have on the national economy.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) released data showing the U.S. plastic resin industry generates $87.1 billion in revenues annually, up from $46.9 billion a decade ago. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), meanwhile, announced a study that found the scrap recycling industry generates around $87.4 billion annually in economic activity.

Both organizations released their figures earlier this week and both focused findings on a key American political concern: job creation. "The [ACC] report shows that the plastics industry is growing and creating good jobs," said Steve Russell, ACC Vice President of Plastics. "It’s no surprise because plastics deliver great value. And, plastic makers will continue to make significant investments for further growth."

The ACC report states that plastic resin manufacturers employ 54,900 people directly. The "multiplier effects" of jobs from supply chain industries generate an additional 342,800 jobs, and the spending by all of these workers support an additional 292,900 jobs, according to the organization.

Another notable statistic from the study: The average plastic resin manufacturer employee earns $85,400 annually, more than 73 percent more than the average wage for all industries.

On the scrap recycling side, the ISRI Economic Impact Study noted that the industry's $87.4 billion in annual output accounts for roughly 0.55 percent of the nation’s overall economic activity as of Q1 2013. In addition, according to the report, more than 460,000 people are employed directly or indirectly by the industry as a whole. In California alone, more than 57,872 jobs lie in the recycling sector, the most of any state in the country.

In addition, the scrap recycling industry was found to generate nearly $4 billion in state and local government revenues and $6.3 billion in federal taxes.

According to the report, since 2009, the scrap recycling industry has expanded from a $54 billion industry to an $87 billion industry.

The study was researched and written by independent economic consulting firm John Dunham and Associates. ISRI’s President, Robin Wiener, hopes the report will convince the country that "the scrap recycling industry must be allowed to grow so it can continue to boost our economy, put people to work, protect our environment and help save energy.”

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