Ferrous Metals Recycling Facts & Statistics

Ferrous scrap is a vital raw material for the production of new steel and cast iron products. The U.S. annually recycles enough ferrous scrap that, if put in rail cars, would stretch in a continuous line for 11,349 miles, nearly halfway around the world. Currently, more than two out of three pounds of steel made in the U.S. are manufactured using ferrous scrap. Electric arc furnace (EAF) manufacturers utilize nearly 100% ferrous scrap as their feedstock material.

Ferrous scrap is iron and steel recovered from automobiles, farm equipment, household appliances, steel beams, bridges, railroad tracks, ships, and food. Nearly half of the ferrous scrap supply is generated from industrial and manufacturing sources. For example, when a piece of metal is cut or a hole is drilled, the metal that is left over is industrial scrap. Ferrous scrap metals recyclers purchase the scrap and process it into one of more than 100 globally recognized commercial grade specifications. It is then sold to a steel mill, foundry, or other industrial consumer for manufacture into new products. Steel is North America's Number #1 Recycled Material. Each year, more steel is recycled than aluminum, paper, glass and plastic combined! Scrap has become the steel industry's single largest source of raw material because it is economically advantageous to recycle old steel into new steel. In light of this, steelmaking furnaces have been designed to consume steel scrap.

In fact, in each of the past 50 years, more than 50 percent of the steel produced in this country has been recycled through the steelmaking process. Thanks to the steel industry's impressive history of recycling, a wide variety of collection programs exist to recycle steel products. All of these programs tap into the steel recycling infrastructure, a well-established network of more than 2,000 ferrous scrap processors and more than 70 end markets. This steel recycling infrastructure, which has grown and matured over the years in its efforts to meet the steel industry's demand for steel scrap, is the reason today's steel recycling efforts actually supersede those of the past.