There’s money to be made in trash.
The economic impact of recycling in South Carolina has doubled over the past eight years, and is now adding $13 billion according to a study released Tuesday.
College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner surveyed 524 companies throughout the state that collect and recycle in-house or for clients, or are end-users of recycled products. Hefner applied IMPLAN modeling, a standard economic measure.
Hefner’s study did not look at municipal and public recycling.
Compared to the 2005 data, the industry has matured, said Hefner. Recycling ventures had big plans and major expansion before the Great Recession. This time, the investment plans are more conservative
“We had a spurt of capital investment and we had some good growth. So now the question is will it continue? Most of the firms are optimistic in terms of their expansion plans, but the size of the expansion will be smaller,” Hefner told South Carolina Radio Network.
Now the industry relies on more high tech operations, which skews the average income higher to about $40,000.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Environmental Control, New Carolina and RecyclonomicsSC sponsored the study, but Helfner worked independently in analyzing the numbers from the companies themselves.
The 2014 report found the following improvements:
- $13 billion in total economic impact – double the impact of $6.5 billion in 2006
- 54,121 jobs, up 44 percent from 37,440 impacted jobs eight years ago
- $2.7 billion in labor income, up 80 percent from the 2006 report
- $329 million in state and local taxes
The College of Charleston economist predicts numbers like this will draw more companies to the state:
“It sends a strong signal,” Heffner said. “Going green is not just something that a lot a firms talk about, they actually want to do. The fact that we are engaged and they can see that it’s possible to do, it’s just one more aspect of that portfolio that we use to sell South Carolina.”