South Carolina Recycling Industry Growing at Fast Pace

Warning: Information you find on this page may be outdated or incorrect.

Tariff and contamination issues have taken the forefront in day-to-day recycling negotiations worldwide. South Carolina, however, remains poised for recycling industry growth.

There is no better proof of that growth potential than the recent $43 million investment by Ecomelida, a Chinese carton recycling company, with its first US plant located in Orangeburg, SC.

SC’s recycling industry – more than 500 businesses that recycle everything from A to Z – has a $13 billion annual impact on the state’s economy according to the Recycling Market Development team at SC Dept of Commerce (SC Commerce). Both post-consumer and post-industrial recycling commodities have homes in SC including aluminum and other metals, cardboard, paper, plastic, tires, and zinc. Overall the industry provides 22,400+ jobs and for every 10 jobs created in the recycling industry, there are 14 others created elsewhere in SC’s economy.

Recycle More and Recycle Right

With ten PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic reclaimers, four recycled cardboard mills and four electric arc furnace steel mills, SC has the capacity to recycle much of the recycling stream.

  • In the Southeast, particularly SC, demand for recyclables exceeds supply. The state’s PET reclaimers, for example, buy bales of plastic from bottle bill states, Canada and Latin America to run their manufacturing plants. There is excess capacity at the consumer level -so let’s RecycleMoreSC!
  •  “Your Bottle Means Jobs” is a unique campaign that shows the economic benefit of increased recycling. SC Commerce calculated that if every household in the Carolinas recycled two more bottles each week, 300 jobs would be created along the recycling value chain from curbside recycling collection to finished product sales. Recycling businesses and coordinators can request a campaign kit for education and outreach efforts.
  • Not only is there a need to recycle more, let’s encourage our recyclers to recycle right.  If you are a business, work with your recycling vendor on what their new requirements are. In addition, SC DHEC has developed recycling’s “Dirty Dozen” fact sheet to help reduce wishful recycling and contamination.

SC Commerce and DHEC are working together to help resolve recycling concerns with technical assistance, workshops and resources on each website:  SC Commerce  and SC DHEC. Residents, businesses and local governments should take pride in knowing that SC has some of the nation’s largest and most well-established recyclers.

Recycling is still the right thing to do. Keep calm and recycle on!

Prepared by Chantal Fryer, Director, Recycling Markets Development, SC Department of Commerce.