JULY 2011

Scrap exports surge to $3.36 billion in April
United States exports reach highest level ever

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), cited new United States Census Bureau data showing that by value, total scrap exports in the United States surged to $3.36 billion in April 2011, beating the prior record of $3.28 billion set in July 2008. Scrap exports also hit a new record by tonnage at 4.66 million metric tons, beating prior record from June 2009 of 4.59 million metric tons.

Total Scrap Exports

For the year to date (January 2011 to April 2011), the value of scrap exports reached $11.8 billion, up 35 percent from January 2010 to April 2010 and well on track to beat last year’s performance.

The biggest year-to-date gains by country/region include Turkey (+62 percent), the European Union (+61 percent to $1.5 billion), Taiwan (+59 percent), China (+34 percent to $3.5 billion), South Korea (+32 percent) and Canada (+18 percent).

By commodity, the year-to-date value of shipments increased as follows:

  • Ferrous scrap: +43 percent to $3.1 billion.
  • Copper scrap: +54 percent to $1.6 billion.
  • Aluminum scrap: +42 percent to $1.3 billion.
  • Recovered Paper: +18 percent to $1.3 billion.
  • Plastic scrap: +6 percent to $321 million.

ISRI president Robin Wiener noted that excess United States scrap is exported to more than 155 countries around the globe.

“The United States scrap recycling industry helps ensure that domestic manufacturers have all the raw materials they need,” Wiener said. “Excess scrap that is exported helps boost our economy, improve our trade balance and protect our environment. The new data shows that our industry continues to grow and expand.”

“This data shows that the United States has more than ample supply of scrap to meet demand both at home and abroad,” ISRI chief economist and director of commodities Joe Pickard said.

Pickard noted that at the same time overseas demand for scrap has increased, government figures from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicate that ferrous scrap consumption in the United States increased to 14 million metric tons in the first quarter of 2011, up from 12.6 million metric tons in the first quarter of 2010.

In late May, ISRI highlighted new Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures showing that the scrap recycling industry added 10,000 green jobs between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.

Estimates put the industry’s current total number of jobs at about 113,000.

The BLS statistics followed news that the United States scrap recycling industry grew 40 percent since 2009 in terms of monetary value despite the lingering effects of the global recession.