The recycling and reuse industries are important contributors to Austin’s regional economy, generating $720 million in economic activity in 2014 and supporting over 2,600 jobs, according to a newly released study commissioned by the City of Austin’s Recycling Economic Development Program. In addition, the sector has the potential to grow by over 50 percent to over $1 billion and 4,200 jobs, according to the study’s author.
In 2011, the Austin City Council adopted the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan which called for the creation of economic development initiatives to support the City’s zero waste goal of 90 percent landfill diversion by 2040. As a result, Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department joined forces to support zero waste business growth through the Recycling Economic Development Program and initiatives such as the redevelopment of the FM 812 landfill into the Austin [re]Manufacturing Hub, the Austin Materials Marketplace, and the Shop Zero Waste initiative. The partnership’s latest effort was to measure the current and potential economic impact of the recycling and reuse sectors through a study by TXP, Inc.
The resulting report provides an overview of the local recycling and reuse sector, its current economic impact and the additional impact of bringing local recycling-related manufacturing up to the national average. The report evaluated available state and national data, overall economic trends, local stakeholder input, literature and best practices. The report also offers recommendations on how the City of Austin can effectively support the sector so that its full potential to create jobs and economic opportunity can be realized.
“This report both confirms that zero waste activities play an important role in our economy and that we have more work to do to maximize this sector’s potential economic impact,” said Bob Gedert, Director of Austin Resource Recovery. “Despite our green reputation, we lag behind the national average in recycling-related manufacturing and we need to take action to correct that.”
“By supporting the recycling and reuse industries, Austin can support the creation of hundreds of jobs for those in our community who are struggling economically, who face employment barriers or who lack a post-secondary degree,” said Kevin Johns, Director of the Economic Development Department. “This report offers guidance on how we can move this industry forward and establishes a baseline for measuring our future success.”
The Recycling Economic Development Program is a joint initiative of Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department, a comprehensive program to drive new recycling markets, create green jobs and generate local investment by supporting reuse and recycling businesses. For more information, visit www.austintexas.gov/recyclingecodev
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