Economic Impacts of Recycling in Iowa

Conveyor at a recycling facility

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources commissioned a study in 2007 seeking to quantify the economic impacts of the recycling industry in Iowa's economy. This study was an update to earlier studies conducted in 1997 and again in 2001.

The study surveyed businesses and industry in Iowa in 2007 that were involved in the recycling industry. New in the 2007 study was the inclusion of an analysis quantifying the greenhouse gas emission reductions generated via Iowa's recycling industry; comparisons between results of the 2007 study with those preceding it; and an analysis of DNR program impacts on Iowa's recycling industry.

In an excerpt from the study:

"Overall, it is most appropriate to look at the estimates of total tons processed, the total value of the commodity sales, and the total jobs as the best indicator of this sector's performance over the years. Using those benchmarks, the industry has increased its output strongly, value added has grown, and the total number of jobs associated with the recycling industry has remained relatively stable in Iowa."  (R.W. Beck 2007 study, Sec. 6, pg. 9)

Highlights from the report

  • Iowa's recycling industry supports an estimated 15,760 Iowa jobs and generates over $4 billion in direct-industrial output.
  • For every 100 jobs created in the recycling processing industry, another 81 jobs are sustained in the Iowa economy.
  • For every dollar in labor income created in the recycling processing industry, $0.73 of additional income is sustained within the Iowa economy.
  • Iowa's recycling industry has a significant, consistent impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In analyzing the 2005 data, approximately 765,185 MTCE (metric ton carbon equivalents) were avoided thanks to Iowa's recycling industry.

See the links below for the Economic Impacts of Recycling in Iowa 2007 final report:

DNR Contact

Scott Flagg