cardboard paper recycling
“The manufacturing industry depends on recycling and the critical raw materials the industry provides,” says ISRI President Robin Wiener.
Photo by Recycling Today staff.

ISRI portrays recycling’s national reach

Trade group says 70 percent of processed recyclables stay on shore for U.S. manufacturing purposes.

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October 5, 2021

The Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) says the recycling industry in the United States now collects some 130 million metric tons of materials annually to be processed into commodities used in new products.

Using the Oct. 1 National Manufacturing Day designation as a peg, the association uses that annual volume statistic and others to recognize the recycling industry’s “contributions to American manufacturing.”

“As we come together to recognize the work of American manufacturers, we cannot do so without acknowledging the countless benefits of the recycling industry,” says ISRI President Robin Wiener. “Recycling is manufacturing. The manufacturing industry depends on recycling and the critical raw materials the industry provides. ISRI is proud to represent the men and women of the recycling industry and the essential role they play in keeping American manufacturing operating.”

In the United States, 70 percent of materials processed by the recycling industry annually are used in American manufacturing, according to ISRI.

The association also cites energy savings as a recycling benefit, saying that making paper and paperboard with recycled materials uses up to 68 percent less energy than using virgin materials. Using recycled plastics in manufacturing saves up to 88 percent of the energy needed to produce plastics from virgin materials, adds ISRI.

On the metals side, ISRI says about 75 percent of the aluminum produced since commercial manufacturing of that metal began in the 1880s is “still in productive use as secondary raw material.”

The association does not mention iron and steel scrap, but at an online ISRI session in April, Benjamin Pickett, a general manager of public affairs and government relations at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Nucor Corp., touted its benefits.

Pickett compared a steel industry greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity level of around 1 in the U.S. that was less than half of that compared with the steel industry in China. Nucor, with its scrap-fed electric arc furnace (EAF) production, was emitting GHGs at half of the U.S. average, said Pickett.

In its National Manufacturing Day press release, ISRI also says nearly 160,000 jobs in the U.S. “are directly supported by recycling and brokerage operations of the recycling industry,” and those jobs pay an average of $77,000 in wages and benefits annually, says the group.