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State Report: Recycling and Waste Reduction Are Vital Source of Jobs in the Illinois Economy

Press Release - Monday, November 15, 2010

CHICAGO - A detailed new economic study released today by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) documents the vital role that the recycling and reuse industry plays in the Illinois economy. The study shows that 40,000 people in Illinois are directly employed in the industry, and that recycling is responsible for 111,500 direct, indirect and induced jobs and a payroll of $3.6 billion. In terms of total economic activity, the industry is responsible for $30.3 billion in gross receipts.

"Recycling really is the original ‘green' industry, and this report proves that it is a vital sector of the Illinois economy," said Governor Pat Quinn, who has been a strong proponent of creating jobs in the green sector.  "Everyone knows recycling is good for the environment, but it is creating jobs right here in Illinois and putting people to work in an important, growing field."

"This report shows that the efforts by DCEO's Division of Recycling and Waste Reduction are paying big dividends for the Illinois economy, as well as for our environment," said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. "Recycling and reuse helps industry by replacing materials often mined and manufactured outside of the state with materials collected and processed within Illinois. As we step up our efforts to keep Illinois on the cutting edge of the green jobs revolution, these data will guide the efforts of state and local governments as well as the entrepreneurs who are seizing the opportunities in the recycling sector."

The report, released to coincide with America Recycles Day, was prepared for DCEO's Division of Recycling and Waste Reduction, part of the State Energy Office, by DSM Environmental through a grant to the Illinois Recycling Association. It is the first such comprehensive study of the industry in Illinois since 2001. The study found that 40,000 people are directly employed in 2,173 establishments involved in recycling and related industries. These include municipal and private collection programs, material recovery facilities, brokers, reuse operations, remanufactures and recycled-content product manufacturers. They work with materials that range from plastic, rubber, steel and aluminum to e-waste, such as computers and other electronic items.

According to the report, an additional 34,000 jobs are indirectly tied to recycling and 37,500 jobs are induced by the industry, for a total of 111,500 jobs and a payroll of $3.6 billion. Indirect jobs are those created in companies that supply the recycling sector; induced jobs are those created when workers in the direct and indirect jobs spend their earnings on goods and services.

The study also found that the recycling and reuse industry has direct gross receipts of $17.1 billion. The economic sectors that include indirect and induced jobs have gross receipts of $7.1 billion and $6.1 billion respectively, bringing the total gross receipts to $30.1 billion.

"This Recycling Economic Impact study proves the recycling, remanufacture and reuse industries are a win-win for the economy of the State of Illinois by, among other things, creating jobs and preserving the environment," said Paul Jacquet, President of the Illinois Recycling Association. "The recycling industry is continuing to grow in many areas with new and expanding curbside collection programs, more electronics recycling and the rapidly expanding composting industry.  The items that we are recycling today are not trash but commodities that add value to the economy, create jobs and add to the GDP of our state and country."

DCEO's Division of Recycling and Waste Reduction provides technical assistance and access to capital for projects involving source reduction, waste reduction, recycling and reuse.  DCEO's efforts help the Illinois recycling industry continue to expand, enhancing statewide economic growth while helping Illinois businesses, schools, local governments and not-for-profit organizations advance their waste reduction and recycling initiatives.
DCEO administers four core recycling and waste reduction programs: the Illinois Recycling Grants Program (IRGP); the Recycling Expansion and Modernization (REM) Program; the Food Scrap Composting Revitalization & Advancement Program (F-SCRAP); and the Zero Waste Schools Grant Program. 
To see the full report and for more information about DCEO's recycling programs go to:  

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