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  • In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that of the 250 million tons of waste generated in the U.S., approximately 1/3, or 83 million tons, was recycled or composted.
  • Since 1985, the percentage of waste recycled in the U.S. has doubled, and the trend is likely to continue.
  • The recycling industry poses a large number of risks [1 MB PDF, 24 pages] to workers in the sector, who are often poorly paid and ill trained.
  • The Global Impact of Ewaste [4 MB PDF, 72 pages]


While recycling is good for the environment, it can be dangerous for workers. Certain materials that are recycled or reused, such as scrap metal, electronics, batteries, and used oil and other chemicals, have materials that directly pose hazards to workers. In addition to those hazards, there are some hazards that are common across various types of recycling, such as traffic safety, moving machine parts, unexpected machine startup, lifting injuries, and slips, trips, and falls. The links below provide access to more detailed information about the hazards associated with specific types of recycling activities, as well as the precautions that should be taken when engaging in those activities.

Scrap Metal
Cardboard Baling
Consumer Electronics
Used Oil/Chemicals
Paper Organic Materials

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