The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI, www.recycle-steel.org) says the 2011 steel recycling rate in the United States reached a record 92 percent, with more than 85 million tons of steel scrap consumed, an increase of nearly 10 million net tons from the previous year.
“This high level of scrap consumption is a reflection of the North American steel industry’s commitment to conserving energy and natural resources,” says Gregory Crawford, executive director of SRI. “The use of steel in everyday products, including packaging, appliances, automotive and construction ensures quality while also supporting product stewardship, knowing that these products are routinely recycled at the end of their use, thanks to steel.”
The SRI says the recycling rate for steel packaging reached 70.8 percent, with more than 1.5 million net tons of steel recycled. The recycling rate for automobiles stands at 94.5 percent.
Recycling rates in other sectors in 2011 included the following: appliance recycling at 90 percent, with more than 2.9 million net tons of steel recycled; the recycling rate of construction plates and beams was 98 percent; and the recycling rate for construction rebar held steady in 2011 at around 70 percent.
“While steel continues to be North America’s most recycled material, there is still progress that can be made,” says Crawford. “Educating recycling coordinators and consumers on the inclusion of materials, especially empty steel aerosol cans, will increase the overall tonnage for the industry.”