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ISRI says in the past 20 years, scrap materials have made a positive contribution to the U.S. trade balance of nearly $300 billion.
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ISRI quantifies recycling trade activities

Organization uses World Trade Month as peg to call attention to recycling’s export-related $35.7 billion impact.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, is using the U.S. Department of Commerce's World Trade Month in May to offer details on the export market’s role in the recycling industry.

“The recycling industry is vital to global supply chains, manufacturing and the environment,” says Joe Pickard, ISRI’s chief economist and director of commodities. “It is not possible to capture the full economic and environmental benefits of recycling without international trade, and recycling is critical to creating a sustainable, circular economy.”

ISRI calculates the recycling industry’s export-related economic impact in the U.S. in 2021 as $35.7 billion. “This includes more than $11 billion in wages and $3.8 billion in taxes generated,” the association says.

Recycled commodity volumes exported from the U.S. “reached the highest level in a decade in 2021,” ISRI says. Since 2000, U.S. recycling industry exports have made a positive contribution to the U.S. trade balance of nearly $300 billion, adds the group.

Established in 1938, ISRI describes World Trade Month in the U.S. as an opportunity to recognize the significance of exporting to the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, overall U.S. exports of goods and services totaled nearly $2.5 trillion in 2021, with each $1 billion in exports supporting more than 5,000 U.S. jobs.

ISRI says recycling impacts world trade by “employing readily available recycled commodities into the supply chain, providing necessary relief for manufacturers experiencing delays while awaiting virgin materials.”

Recycled materials as a manufacturing feedstock meet about 40 percent of the world’s industrial raw material needs, ISRI says. “By exporting excess valuable recycled commodities to other countries, the recycling industry helps prevent the need to extract more of the earth’s finite natural resources,” states the association.

ISRI says it represents companies that process, broker and consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics, and textiles.