The recycling rate for steel has reached an all-time high of 92 percent, according to a recent announcement from the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), an industry association that promotes the recycling of all steel products. In 2011, more than 85 million tons of steel was recycled. This represents an increase of nearly 10 million net tons from the previous year.
Steel is the most recycled material in North America, with more steel recycled every year than paper, aluminum, plastic and glass combined. According to the SRI, the recycling rate for steel packaging is at 70.8 percent, also the highest it has ever been. Automobile recycling rates are at 94.5 percent, and appliance recycling remains stable at 90 percent. Construction also remains steady, with a recycling rate of 98 percent for construction plates and beams, and 70 percent for construction rebar.
The steel industry has a well-established history of recycling. According to the SRI, more than 50 percent of the steel produced in the U.S. has been recycled through the steelmaking process in each of the past 50 years. Scrap metal has become the industry’s single biggest source of raw material, with today’s steelmaking furnaces designed to consume steel scrap.
“While steel continues to be North America’s most recycled material, there is still progress that can be made,” said Gregory L. Crawford, executive director of SRI, in a press release. “Educating recycling coordinators and consumers on the inclusion of materials, especially empty steel aerosol cans, will increase the overall tonnage for the industry.”
Some common household items that can be recycled include steel cans, packaging, appliances, cars and scrap metal. To learn more about steel recycling, visit the Steel Recycling Database, a searchable online database created by the The Steel Alliance and Steel Recycling Institute designed to help consumers locate drop-off centers and curbside programs.