Fewer than 10 percent of the more than 138,600 jobs in the recycling industries in 13 southeastern states and Puerto Rico surveyed by the Southern States Energy Board are in plastics recycling or plastic recycled material manufacturing. Playing a minor role in an upbeat review of general recycling in the region, plastics recycling processing and manufacturing contributes $896,000 a year, a fraction of the more than $18.5 million in value the survey said is added to the economy of the region by recycling. The survey cites the federal Commerce Department's 1995 Statistical Abstract of the United States among its sources.
According to SSEB policy analyst Craig Seeley at the board's headquarters in Norcross, Ga., a portion of that value added for plastics is possible because the survey assumes no collection costs. The survey assumed the value of all recyclables is zero at the point they are received by recyclers.
Also, the displacement of other economic activity, such as virgin resin production, was not considered, the survey notes. The survey also cites a 1995 study by the North Carolina Recycling Busi-ness Assistance Center that contends 13 positions in solid waste and virgin materials extraction are lost for every 100 positions created in all recycling industries.
The survey, conducted in response to questions about the need to invest in recycling in the region by the Southern Gover-nors Association, was paid for by the energy board, whose members include the American Plastics Council, Amoco Corp., Eastman Chemical Co., Procter & Gamble Co., and Tenneco Packag-ing.
Other survey results related to plastics include:
Of paper, glass, plastic and metals, only glass recycling produced less as a material to the region than plastic. Glass produced $207,562 in revenue, compared with paper's $4.3 million and metals' $13.2 million.
Nearly 2 billion pounds of plastics were converted into pellets and 1.5 billion pounds were used to make plastic sheet in the 13 states and Puerto Rico.
Of the 16,602 plastics recycling industry jobs polled, the highest number engaged in recycled plastics processing and manufacturing was in North Carolina, with 5,882. Some 5,612 of those jobs were in manufacturing.
Georgia, with 3,612 plastics recycling industry jobs, was second, followed by Texas with 2,613, South Carolina with 2,108 and Alabama with 378.