May 2005

Seven million additional tons of steel recycled

Pittsburgh, PA— The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) announced that the recycling rate for the world’s and America’s most recycled material — steel — remained at 70.7 percent in 2004. However, total tons of steel recycled increased by over 7.2 million tons. This dramatic increase, driven by an expanding market for steel, continues to position steel as the leader when it comes to recycling.

“Over 76 million tons of scrap steel recycled in 2004 was the most scrap recycled in the U.S. in over 25 years,” said Bill Heenan, president of the Steel Recycling Institute. “But, more importantly, the composition of the tons recycled in 2004 contained almost 35 percent more obsolete scrap than in 1980,” Heenan noted. “That’s because as the steel industry has become a more efficient user of raw materials, it has increased the demand for post-consumer scrap, and the scrap industry continues to deliver end-of-life steel-dominated products back to the steel mills to be reborn into new products.

The industry is now one of the largest consumers of recycled materials in the world. Truly, the American steel industry is forging a sustainable path to the benefit of future generations.”

SRI reported that the recycling infrastructure throughout the U.S. benefited dramatically from the increased demand for “The New Steel” that automotive, appliance, container, and construction customers are demanding in their 21st century products. As a result of this demand, the steel industry continues to require steel scrap, and the scrap industry continues to provide this vital ingredient to making steel.

Many Americans have experienced this increased demand for steel as scrap peddlers roam the streets and roadways of large and small cities searching for discarded products that contain steel,” said Bill Heenan, president of the Steel Recycling Institute. He added, “Although the individual recycling rates for cans, cars and construction are not yet available, all indications are that those too will have increased when final numbers are available.”

Heenan pointed out that the increased demand for steel scrap is helping to keep America beautiful. “An example of this beautification was personally seen in the removal of two end-of-life vehicles from a wetland area in Western Pennsylvania,” Heenan noted. “These two vehicles had sat in a wetland for over three years and then one Sunday while driving this rural road, I noticed that both of the vehicles had been removed. I have no doubt that the increased value of steel lead a recycler to remove these vehicles and make sure that they became part of the recycling stream rather than littering a beautiful natural habitat.”


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