2001's Slow Economy Did Not Hurt Steel Recycling Rate

Pittsburgh, PA - Despite the sluggish economy throughout 2001, steel recycling rates advanced and steel continued its reign as North America's most recycled material. The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) reports that the steel industry recycled nearly 66 million tons of scrap in 2001, resulting in an overall steel recycling rate of 67.8 percent. This represents a 5.7 percent increase when compared to the overall recycling rate in 2000.

In the case of automobiles, there was a significant increase in the recycling rate at 101.9 percent, from 95.4 percent in 2001. The automobile recycling rate is derived by comparing the total steel utilized to produce new cars to the total steel recovered from old cars.

"High-strength steels are the fastest growing materials utilized in new vehicle production. Because these high-strength steels provide more protection with less mass, the steel industry recycled more steel from automobiles than was utilized in the production of new vehicles, thus resulting in an automobile recycling rate greater than 100 percent," commented Bill Heenan, president of the Steel Recycling Institute.

The steel recycling rate for construction and demolition debris remains at a very impressive 95 percent for structural beams and plates.

The recycling rate for rebar and other construction materials increased slightly to 50 percent in 2001 as more of these products are being separated from concrete.

When it comes to the household, appliances continue to be collected for recycling from curbs across America prior to even entering the waste stream. The appliance recycling rate exhibited a slight increase to 85 percent for the year 2001.

In addition, steel cans continued to fill curbside bins in communities across the United States and Canada. In the U.S. alone, over 202 million Americans have easy access to steel can recycling, whether it be through curbside collection, drop-off, buy back centers or because steel is magnetically separated for recycling at resource recovery facilities. The recycling rate for steel cans remained virtually constant at 58.1 percent in 2001.

According to Mr. Heenan, "While many anti-recyclers continue to say that recycling is a waste, our database indicates that 57 new curbside programs were established in 2001, thus allowing additional Americans to participate in the greening of American. Recycling continues to be more popular than democracy as more Americans recycled in 2001 than voted for the President in 2000."