Manufacturing Depends on Recycling

This special Friday edition of Industry Voices was written by Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s vice president of advocacy.

Recycling is manufacturing. Each year, the men and women of the recycling industry fulfill an essential role by manufacturing 130 million metric tons of recyclables into critically essential raw material. In the United States alone, 70 percent of materials processed by the recycling industry annually are used in American manufacturing.

The recycling industry is also essential in helping other manufacturers reach their sustainability goals and creating a more sustainable planet for future generations. When it comes to jobs, the industry is vibrant and full of employment opportunities. Annually, 159,640 jobs are directly supported by recycling and brokerage operations of the recycling industry in the United States. These jobs pay an average of $77,300 in wages and benefits to American workers and local communities throughout the country. In addition, 346,499 jobs throughout the U.S. economy are indirectly supported by the recycling industry through suppliers and the indirect impact of the industry’s expenditures. The indirect jobs include thousands of people in other sectors such as servers in restaurants, construction workers, teachers, and other professionals.

Recycling’s role in manufacturing goes beyond the use of recycled content. It is equally important that manufacturers design products with recyclability in mind. The industry actively works with manufacturers to ensure such through ISRI’s Design for Recycling® (DFR) principles and award.

As manufacturing and recycling industries grow and evolve, it is important to ensure a steady supply of skilled workers both now and in the future. ISRI’s youth education curricula and outreach program provides a preview into the work of the recycling industry while encouraging students to consider the many career paths the industry provides. Equipping tomorrow’s workforce begins today.

Recycling provides critically essential feedstock, ensuring supply chains are not disrupted, protecting our natural resources, and keeping prices down for the products Americans rely on every day.

Happy Manufacturing Day, recyclers! Today and every day we recognize your essential role in keeping American manufacturing strong.