Recycling offers a host of environmental, economic, and societal benefits (see “Is Recycling Worthwhile?”). While landfill space is plentiful on the national level, some areas of the United States, particularly the heavily populated East Coast, have less landfill capacity and higher landfill costs.
Communities can make money and avoid high disposal costs by selling certain recyclable materials. Markets for recovered materials fluctuate, however—as markets do for all commodities—depending on a variety of economic conditions.
Find more information on the value of recovered materials: In 2016, EPA released the Recycling Economic Information (REI) Report which offers perhaps the most compelling evidence of how and why recycling makes good economic sense. Simply put, recycling creates jobs and generates valuable revenue for the United States. In the report, it is estimated that in 2007, recycling activities contributed 757,00 jobs (0.52% of all jobs in the U.S. economy, $36.6 billion in wages (0.62% of total wages paid), and $6.7 billion in tax revenues (0.90% of total revenues). This equates to 1.57 jobs for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled. Construction and Demolition waste provides the largest contribution to all three categories (job, wage, and tax revenue), followed by ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals such as aluminum.
For more information, you can visit www.epa.gov/smm/recycling-economic-information-rei-report.