Economic Impact of Recycling

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries recently released their 2021 Economic Impact Study for the United States Recycling Industry. This highlights the impacts that recycling has on jobs, manufacturing, taxes, agriculture, and transportation. 

2021 Economic Impact Study, U.S.-Based Recycling Industry

In 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their Recycling Economic Information Report (REI) which aims to increase the understanding of the economic implications of material reuse and recycling.

Recycling Economic Information Report


State of Recycling in North America

In 2018, China’s National Sword policy banned the import of several recyclable materials, including mixed paper and mixed plastics. The policy also reduced the level of contamination accepted in other scrap and recyclable materials to 0.5 percent. China later banned nearly all imported scrap and recyclables, effectively closing the country to US or Canadian recovered materials. China was a major market for recyclable materials from North America and around the world, so this policy caused a significant reduction in demand and prices for these materials. Numerous media outlets reported on the downturn in the recycling markets in 2018–2019, and the challenges curbside residential recycling programs faced in some communities. Unfortunately, very few articles have been written in 2021 about the strong recovery in commodity prices and the positive impact on local recycling programs. 

Check out this article released by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) for full details.

Recycling Markets Have Strongly Recovered Since National Sword


How can you help keep recycling programs strong?

  • Only recycle items that are accepted in our program. “Wish cycling” – or, putting items in the cart and hoping they get recycled – can increase contamination and costs. Do NOT put plastic bags, hazardous waste, plastic-lined papers, food/liquids, or StyrofoamTM in your recycling cart.
  • When in doubt, throw it out – or, call Eureka Recycling at 651-222-7678 to find out for sure whether an item can be accepted for recycling.
  • Look for ways to reduce your consumption, especially of single use plastic items like straws, cups, and other packaging. Seek out products sold in bulk, are in refillable or reusable packages and recyclable within our program.

Last Edited: November 4, 2021