Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 30, 2019: ISRI’s State of the Recycling System

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Explore the state of U.S. recycling with Joe Pickard, chief economist and director of commodities at the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). He joins Earth911 to talk about the recently released ISRI 2019 Economic Impact Study. Despite massive change after China refused to accept U.S. recyclables in early 2018, the U.S. recycling industry grew last year to $110 billion in economic activity and added jobs. More than 531,510 people work in recycling-related jobs and direct employment in recycling has increased by about 5 percent since 2017.

Joe and Mitch Ratcliffe discuss the changing landscape in U.S. recycling. New players and new technology are improving recycling efficiency, yet the progress is not always visible to consumers who are still seeing declines in glass, plastic, and paper acceptance at their municipal recycling programs. ISRI conducts ongoing work to provide new guidelines for recycled materials. Joe explains how the recently announced ISRI Scrap Specifications Working Group is helping to introduce new recycling practices that will expand the recycling of plastics, paper, and new materials appearing in the market. At the end of the day, recycling must be economically sustainable, and these new guidelines will help improve the overall U.S. recycling rate.


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