Financial & Economic Impacts of Product Stewardship

Product Stewardship programs from recycling to EPR to voluntary company and industry run take-back programs have been creating financial, economic and environmental benefits for over 10 years in the United States. Still, there is more we can do to turn our "waste into food" and revitalize our manufacturing industry, retain valuable raw materials and earth metals in the U.S., and reduce the cost burden of current waste management practices on taxpayers and local governments.

Financial Benefits

Product stewardship results in environmental and human health benefits. It also saves local governments money. Financial benefits take two forms: direct cost savings and no-cost expanded service. Communities that offer product take-back services enjoy direct cost savings on an annual basis when product manufacturers take on the costs local programs are paying now to collect, transport, and recycle or appropriately dispose of used products. Communities without take-back programs enjoy no-cost expanded service—convenient product recycling or appropriate disposal without additional costs. PSI has documented the financial benefits of product stewardship. Fact sheets and case studies can be found below, as well as a calculator you can use to compute direct cost savings and the potential value of expanded service of product stewardship.

Financial Benefits Calculator Tool

  • Download the Financial Benefits Quick Calculator - UPDATED JULY 2016 based on the most current data available! Estimate the financial benefits of product stewardship in terms of annual savings of expanded recycling benefits by using this easy tool. Just enter the population of your town, county, or state.
  • Download the Financial Benefits Detailed Calculator - For a more detailed analysis of product stewardship’s financial benefits, use PSI's "Cost Savings and Expanded Service Calculator." We welcome your feedback as we work to perfect this tool! By entering information about the population of your town, county, or state, product stewardship programs already in place, and your product stewardship goals, you can create a more refined estimate of the financial benefits of product stewardship in your area.

Economic Development and Job Creation

Recycling, reuse and remanufacturing creates up to 10 times more jobs than traditional waste disposal. It should be no surprise that a practice that transforms materials we often classify as trash into valuable commodities and high-quality manufacturing feedstock should produce a far greater and more positive economic effect than stashing material away in a landfill to sit unproductive and wasted. Furthermore, recycling is a NET job creator. North Carolina found that for every 100 jobs created in the recycling sector, just 10 jobs were lost in traditional disposal.[1]

In fact, the recycling industry is a formidable force on the US economic stage. In. 2010 the industry supported 459,131 jobs, $26.1 billion in wages, $10.3 billion in taxes to federal, state and local governments and an overall economic output of $90.6 billion making it comparable to the poultry & egg, toy, book publishing & coal mining industries.[2] Recycling is one of the top 10 fastest growing industries in the U.S. [3] and is projected to grow 11% by 2016.[4]

And yet, over 164 million tons of materials end up in landfills each year in the U.S. costing approximately $5 billion dollars in landfill and waste-to-energy tipping fees and wasting over $9 billion of value from scrap materials sales.[5]

Increasing the U.S. recycling rate from the current 33% to 75% would add 1.5 million more jobs by 2030 than in 2008.[6]

Economic Impacts of Waste Diversion Reports:

Jobs Creation Calculator Tool

Other Resources

For more resources, reports, articles and presentations on the benefits of product stewardship, see our Resource List.

[1] Shore, Michael. The Impact of Recycling on Jobs in North Carolina. Raleigh, NC: Recycling Busienss Assistance Center, 2005.

[2] The Scrap Recycling Industry 2011 Economic Impact Study, Executive Report. John Dunham and Associates, Inc. July 26, 2011.

[3] Mont, Joe. "10 Industries That Are Growing the Fastest". The Street, Managing Your Money, April 19, 2011.

[4] IBISWorld. "Recycling Facilities in the US, U.S. Industry Report", July 2, 2011

[5] MSW Disposal Figures: "Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States Data Tables 1 - 7, 2010"; MSW Disposal and Waste-To-Energy percentages: "Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States Facts and Figures for 2010"; 2008 Average Landfill and 2008 Average Waste-to-Energy Tipping Fee: "The State of Garbage in America" BioCycle December 2008, vol 49, No. 12, pg. 22; Scrap Sale Prices: Based on 2010 Annual Average of index prices for Official Board Markets , "The Yellow Sheet" for fiber materials. Food and Beverage containers based on "Waste and Recycling" SecondaryMaterialsPricing.com.

[6] More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S. Prepared by the Tellus Institute with Sound Resource Management, November 2011.

For more information please contact Amanda Nicholson, at amanda@productstewardship.us or (617) 236-4833.

Community Search
Sign In


Forgot your password?

Haven't registered yet?

Latest News
Events