Metal recycling is generally seen as a growing “green” industry and as a part of the national effort to rebuild economy by creating green jobs. Recycling aluminum or copper, for example, saves 95% of the energy costs of processing new metals. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of scrap metal recycling businesses in the US has grown by nearly 20%. Overall, the scrap industry processes more than 130,000,000 tons of recyclable material each year into raw material feedstock for industrial manufacturing around the world. In 2010 the United States has exported over $3.5 billion dollars worth of non-ferrous scrap alone.
Scrap metal recycling plays a vital role in the manufacturing supply chain, as it contributes to the United States balance of trade, as well as playing a significant role in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The important objective to consider when evaluating the significance of scrap metal recycling is that scrap metal is not “waste”, nor is recycling of it. Recognizing this difference is essential in trying to balance the world’s metal resources and promoting sustainability in our environment and communities.