Scrap Recycling Facts

Scrap Recycling Provides Jobs and Resources for American Manufacturing

Source: The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI)
As a critical link in the manufacturing supply chain, scrap recycling has been integral to the U.S. economy, job creation, resource sustainability, energy savings and global trade for more than 200 years.


Scrap recycling has evolved as the major industry dedicated to transforming materials to create new products and driving economies. Today, the U.S. scrap recycling industry employs more than 137,000 people.


The scrap recycling industry annually transforms more than 130 million metric tons of obsolete materials from consumers, businesses and manufacturers into useful raw materials. Without scrap recycling, more mining and use of virgin natural resources would be required.
Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions by significantly saving the amount of energy needed to manufacture the products that we buy, build and use. The energy saved by recycling can then be used for other purposes like heating our homes and powering our automobiles.

Ferrous Scrap Recycling:

Steel is the most recycled material both in the United States and worldwide. In the United States alone, 74 million metric tons of ferrous scrap was processed by the scrap recycling industry last year: more than 55% of the volume of all domestically processed material. Obsolete ferrous scrap is recovered from automobiles, steel structures, household appliances, railroad tracks, ships, farm equipment and other sources. In addition, scrap generated from industrial and manufacturing sources accounts for approximately half of the ferrous scrap supply.

Nonferrous Scrap Recycling:

Nonferrous metals, including aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin, zinc and others, are among the few materials that do not degrade or lose their chemical or physical properties in the recycling process. As a result, nonferrous metals have the capacity to be recycled an infinite number of times.
More than eight million metric tons of nonferrous scrap was processed in the United States last year from a wide array of consumer, commercial and industrial sources: everything from copper and precious metal circuitry in electronic devices, to soft-drink containers, automobile batteries and radiators, aluminum siding, airplane parts and more.

Interesting Facts:

The United States annually recycles enough copper to provide the copper content of more than 26,000 Statues of Liberty.
If all aluminum scrap processed in the United States were used solely to produce standard soda cans, the lined up cans would stretch more than 25 million miles — the distance from Earth to the planet Venus!
The United States annually processes more than 250 billion lbs. of scrap material — the weight of more than 70 million cars.