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The newly published “ISRI Scrap Yearbook 2012” provides a broad-based look at the myriad of sectors comprising the recycling industry, from aluminum to zinc.

March 11, 2013
Lisa McKenna

For those seeking a one-stop publication offering a comprehensive look at the recycling industry, from A to Z, there’s a new resource available. The Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) has released a new publication, The “ISRI Scrap Yearbook 2012.” This 50-page booklet, published in December 2012, provides an overview of the industry, its history and evolution and trends on recycled commodities. ISRI says the report is the first such document of its kind that the association has undertaken.

In a press release announcing the yearbook’s debut, ISRI President Robin Weiner says the booklet is an essential tool for anyone interested in the current trends and areas of growth within the scrap recycling industry in the United States and globally. “The information is presented in a concise yet comprehensive format that will be an invaluable resource for members of the scrap industry and related sectors,” she says, “as well as for those looking to learn more about our industry.”

Joe Pickard, chief economist and director of commodities for ISRI, provided much of the editorial direction for the book. “We really wanted to give people a snapshot or an overview of what our industry is in one easily accessible publication,” Pickard says.

He explains that over the years the association has published a variety of fact sheets and reports covering such topics as the environmental impact and economic benefits of recycling, however that information hadn’t been published in one source.

“It brings together a lot of information from different research that we’ve either done or had done throughout the course of the year,” Pickard notes of the Yearbook.

Many Contributors
According to the association, the “ISRI Scrap Yearbook” highlights the U.S. scrap recycling market through data collected during 2011 by ISRI, industry partners, U.S. government associations and international organizations. The yearbook details data about ferrous metal, aluminum, copper, nickel, stainless steel, lead, zinc, paper, plastics, rubber, glass, textiles and electronics. Also included is useful information about the economic and environmental benefits associated with scrap recycling, as well as commodity-specific overviews on how scrap is generated, processed, traded and used. Additionally, practical examples of the life cycle and material flow of key recycled goods and commodities are provided, the association says.

What’s more, Pickard says, the publication is designed to appeal to a broad audience of readers. “It’s not just for our industry members—who I think will like the report too—but for people who aren’t as familiar with what the scrap industry is.” Pickard adds that the industry’s intricacies aren’t always clear to newcomers or to those not directly involved in recycling. “Hopefully this will give them a bit of a better picture.”

Pickard says the information in the “ISRI Scrap Yearbook” comes from a variety of public and private sources. For instance many of the scrap metal recycling figures come from the U.S. Geological Survey. Scrap exports information comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the International Trade Commission. And an appendix on global trade flows includes data from the United Nations. Also assisting in the production of the booklet or with providing information were the Aluminum Association, the Bureau of International Recycling, the Can Manufacturers Institute, the JASON Project, the International Copper Study Group, the American Forest & Paper Association, NAPCOR and the Council for Textile Recycling.

The document was mailed to ISRI’s 3,000 member locations, with an additional 5,500 copies published for distribution upon request as well as to members of the press, policymakers and other audiences.

A New Venture
The idea for the “ISRI Scrap Yearbook” originated internally, Pickard says. He had produced a similar document, the “Copper Fact Book,” during his previous tenure with the International Copper Study Group, he explains. “It provides an overview of the copper industry from mining to refining and recycling,” he says.

“I thought that the scrap recycling industry could benefit from a similar type of publication, so we talked about it internally and I think everybody wanted to see this.”

Pickard says the book, which took roughly six months to produce, was a project he wanted to complete for the association since he joined the staff a little more than two years ago.

As such, publishing the yearbook has been a new venture for the association, Pickard observes. “We’ve done different publications over the years, but have never done one exactly like this that covers the whole range of commodities,” he says, “so this is something new for us.”

In future years, Pickard says, ISRI hopes to update the book with regard to existing data as well as to provide expanded coverage of the topics included in 2012. One such example is the topic of scrap processing, Pickard says. “It might be helpful to show readers step by step how scrap material gets processed,” he says. Another idea, he says, is a timeline of major developments in the evolution of the industry.

Since the publication of the yearbook, Pickard says ISRI has received much positive feedback, with many members requesting additional copies for their various locations. “They use it as an educational tool for their employees in addition to a promotional tool for people who come in to visit,” says Pickard. “It does contain a lot of information in one place.”

The full-color booklet contains 41 various topic areas along with an Appendix of Global Scrap Exports by Commodity, Volume and Value. Full-color photographs, charts, graphs and schematics are dispersed throughout, illustrating such topics as growth trends, industry breakdowns, export flows and product life cycles.


The author is a managing editor with the Recycling Today Media Group and can be contacted at

To Access the Yearbook: The inaugural edition of the “ISRI Scrap Yearbook” can be downloaded as an Adobe Acrobat PDF from ISRI’s website at