The recycling and waste material handling industry includes companies that collect, sort, store, transport, process and recycle waste materials, including glass, plastics, metals, paper and corrugated, fiber and textiles, and electronics. These materials may be byproducts of industrial production or collected in household waste streams.
Growing consumer awareness of the importance of recycling has led to an increased volume of recycled materials in the waste stream as well as increased demand for consumer goods made with recycled materials. Eco-conscious brands are actively working to increase the percentage of upcycled materials in their goods. At the same time, many of the overseas recycling and processing facilities that the industry has traditionally relied on to do the “dirty work” of waste material handling, sorting, cleaning and recycling have put new restrictions on the volumes and types of materials they will accept from the U.S. This has created an opportunity to “reshore” some of the work of recycling to the U.S. in order to keep up with demand from both consumers and manufacturers.
However, the recycling and waste materials handling industry also faces a huge “NIMBY” (Not In My Backyard) problem. While many consumers want to recycle and actively seek out products with recycled material content, few want a recycler as a next-door neighbor. Odor complaints have landed many recyclers and waste material handlers in hot water with neighboring companies and local regulators. Recyclers and waste materials handlers also have to consider the environment they are asking employees to work in, both from a health and safety standpoint and from a recruiting standpoint. No one wants to work in a smelly, noxious and unhealthy workplace.