North Carolina's recycling workforce triples over 20 years

North Carolina's recycling workforce triples over 20 years

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Dec. 3, 2013

A recent survey of private recycling businesses in North Carolina indicates that the industry has continued to develop, now employing more than 17,000 people in the Tarheel State at a collective payroll approaching $500 million.

A total of 765 recycling businesses were contacted for the study carried out by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR). According to the study, all but 12 recycling businesses provided the state agency with employment data, combining for a 98 percent response rate. The study is the sixth since NCDENR first began surveying the industry in 1994.

In 1994 private recycling industry within the state accounted for 6,647 jobs. Almost two decades later, the industry's workforce has grown nearly three-fold, the most recent study found, directly employing 17,002 North Carolinians. Since 2010, the industry's workforce has grown by 11.95 percent.

According to the study, the hourly wage for industry employees in 2013 was $12.50, while the collective payroll of the industry reached $442 million, up $47.2 million from 2010.

In 2010, 48 percent of survey respondents had estimated that 400 new recycling jobs would be created by 2013. According to the most recent study's findings, 673 new jobs were created in that span and 45 percent of businesses projected the creation of an additional 421 new jobs by 2015.

About half of respondents for the 2013 study anticipated "making additional capital investments" totaling an estimated $43.3 million in equipment, facilities and land upgrades in the next two years. Between 2011 and 2013, the industry invested $79.6 million.

According to the study, no single commodity dominates North Carolina's recycling industry.

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