Study shows growth in recycling jobs

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources released a study this week showing strong growth in recycling jobs in the state despite the effects of the recent recession.  

The research, conducted by DENR’s Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach, is the latest in a string of studies demonstrating the ongoing contribution of recycling to the state’s economic growth. Results published in 1994, 2000, 2004, 2008 and now in 2010 have each documented increases in recycling employment in North Carolina over time.

The study’s major findings include:

There are currently almost 15,200 private sector recycling-related jobs in North Carolina.

Private sector recycling jobs have increased 4.8 percent since 2008.

The total annual payroll for North Carolina recycling businesses is $395 million.

Forty-eight percent of recycling businesses surveyed anticipate creating more jobs during the next two years.

Twenty-five percent of businesses surveyed report manufacturing a product using recycled materials.

Recycling businesses target a wide variety of recyclables for collection, processing or use in manufacturing. No single recycling commodity dominates the market.

“We are pleased to see that recycling remains a dynamic source of green jobs in North Carolina,” said DENR Secretary Dee Freeman. “The study shows that recycling not only helps us reduce our dependence on landfills, save energy and prevent pollution, but that it also boosts the economy at a critical time.”

“North Carolinians have a real opportunity to contribute to our economic recovery by recycling at home, at work and on-the-go,” said Scott Mouw, director of the state’s recycling programs.  “By diverting recyclable materials out of the waste stream and back into the stream of commerce, we can grow the more than 900 recycling businesses across the state who are making key investments in the collection, processing and end-use of those commodities.”

North Carolina-based recycling businesses listed in the state’s online Recycling Markets Directory received an invitation to participate in the 2010 Recycling Business employment study update. Additional recycling employment data from the N.C. Employment Security Commission and Harris Infosource was included in the study for recycling-related businesses not listed in the Recycling Markets Directory.  

A copy of the study can be found online at

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