Who knew trash could be so valuable?
The municipal waste collection, recycling and disposal industry in Pennsylvania contributes more than $4.2 billion a year to the state's economy and supports more than 26,000 jobs, according to research from Philadelphia consulting firm Econsult Solutions Inc.
The report, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association, is based on accepted economic methodology, using official state and national data and information collected in a survey of Pennsylvania landfill operators, haulers and recyclers, according to a news release.
The municipal waste industry collects, hauls and disposes of 8.6 million tons of Pennsylvania municipal solid waste annually. The amount of materials recycled in Pennsylvania grew 20 percent, from 4.8 million tons in 2006 to 5.85 million tons in 2011, according to the release. About 30 percent of Pennsylvania's recycled commodities are exported, which brings new money into the state economy.
"Along with that, we have also evolved into the 'front end' of recycling in Pennsylvania," said PWIA President Mark Pedersen, who also is general manager for Republic Services Inc.'s York office. "Our members collect, haul, separate and process recyclables that become the feedstock for reuse and remanufacture into new products. Recycling has become the fastest-growing component of our industry."
Pennsylvania has more than 2,200 places that collect and process recyclables, about 500 manufacturers that use recycled materials, and another thousand enterprises involved in reuse and remanufacturing, according to the news release.
About half of the trash industry's economic impact comes from direct annual operating expenditures and employment within the municipal waste industry — roughly $2.3 billion, according to the release. The industry directly provides jobs to about 12,000 people at an average wage of $55,000 per year.