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Study: Conn. recycling industry worth $746M annually

Connecticut’s trash, while perhaps not treasure, has been worth an estimated $746 million in total economic impact and 4,800 direct and indirect jobs in 2012, according to a new report.

Since 2006, the recycling industry has been worth nearly $5.17 billion to the state economy, according to the Nov. 27 study, which was conducted by the nonprofit Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) Inc.

For the six years covered by the study, Connecticut’s recycling industry has been responsible for employing an average of 2,710 people a year, with an additional 755 people a year on average employed by companies that directly support the recycling industry.

“Businesses that focus on profits know that finding a way to reuse materials can make them money,” the report states. “Households don’t often recognize the value added they provide to the economy by choosing to recycle; however, their contribution can be significant to the overall well-being of the economy of the region.”

The household incomes associated with employees of the recycling industry and supporting industries have helped to create jobs for an additional 1,325 Connecticut residents, CERC found, using the IMPLAN economic multiplier model.

Recycling industry sales and revenues, wages, business taxes and associated spending activity by employees have resulted in a cumulative economic impact of more than $700 million annually going back to at least 2006, according to the study.

That impact includes the direct and perceived effects of materials being recycled back onto the market.

Recycled materials that are turned around and sold by independent wholesalers “become resource inputs for industries and, because they use less energy, decrease the carbon footprint of manufacturing and put downward pressure on the prices of natural resources,” the report states.

The study was commissioned by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), a quasi-public agency contracted by 74 of the state’s cities and towns for solid waste disposal and recycling services.

CRRA President Thomas D. Kirk said in a statement that the study demonstrates “recycling is a vibrant and growing sector of our state’s economy.”

The state-backed recycling authority, which was created by the General Assembly in 1973, has had a total economic impact of $883 million since 2006, according to the report.

CERC calculates that the recycling industry has spurred the creation of jobs in areas ranging from transportation and warehousing to manufacturing and trade.

Alissa DeJonge, director of research of CERC, which is based in Rocky Hill, said employment has grown “slightly” in the recycling industry over the six years tracked by the report.

“There’s been a steady increase in the output that we’ve seen each year and the jobs have remained pretty stable,” she said, adding that the report’s findings characterize the recycling industry “as a growth industry.”

DeJonge called the results a conservative estimate, adding that the recycling industry will likely see an increase in activity following Hurricane Sandy.

“While these numbers are substantial, they are conservative estimates of the overall impact,” DeJonge said.

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