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The Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling


The TCEQ hired Burns & McDonnell to conduct a study on the current economic impacts of recycling materials from municipal solid waste (MSW) streams in Texas.

According to the Study, approximately 9.2 million tons of municipal solid waste designated material were recycled in Texas in 2015. Typical recyclables (paper, plastics, metal, and glass), organics (yard trimmings, brush, green waste, and food and beverage materials), and construction and demolition materials accounted for 8.7 million tons, or 94.4 percent of the total recycled materials in Texas. Based on an average commodity market for typical recyclables, organics, and C&D materials, $702 million in materials were recycled in Texas in 2015.

Based on the tons of municipal solid waste recycling reported for this Study, the 2015 recycling rate for municipal solid waste in Texas was 22.7 percent.

The Study also found that the recycling of municipal solid waste creates economic benefits for the Texas economy, with more than 17,000 person years of direct, indirect, and induced employment supported during 2015. The overall impact of recycling MSW on the Texas economy exceeded $3.3 billion.

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The backstory:

In 2015, the 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 2763 for the development of a Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling that will build on the efforts of prior recycling studies and will dig deeper into the economic benefits of the recycling industry in Texas. The study will include a recycling industry survey to tap into current market conditions. This will give Texas policy makers the information they need to examine the economic, environmental, and policy issues of interest to Texas businesses, citizens, and governmental agencies. The study was completed in 2017.

The Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI), released in February 2015, was developed by the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR), in partnership with the Lonestar Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America (TxSWANA). TRDI provided a benchmark for recycling activity in Texas, including establishing the methodology and presenting limited economic and jobs information. Other similar, regional studies have been completed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Through a competitive bidding process, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had retained Burns & McDonnell to complete the project. Burns & McDonnell led the TRDI effort in collaboration with STAR, and TRDI was successful in part because of the strong participation and support from the recycling industry in Texas. This support and participation is even more crucial as we move forward with this study and collect data from recycling processors and end markets handling Texans’ recyclable material. STAR worked as a subcontractor to Burns & McDonnell on this project for TCEQ.

View and listen to the webinar presentation given by Scott Pasternak, Project Manager with Burns & McDonnell

Informational Flyer


Press Release: Study Will Quantify MSW recycled Material and Its Economic Impacts in Texas