The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) is proud to join in the celebration of World Trade Week 2016, a week devoted to the recognition of international trade and the critical role it plays in strengthening the U.S. economy and commodity-based industries, such as the scrap recycling industry.
The goal of World Trade Week is to emphasize the importance of the role international trade plays in the global economy. The scrap recycling industry is not only a global industry, but it serves as the first link in the manufacturing supply chain. As such, the industry is dependent on solid global economic growth; barrier-lowering trade agreements that open markets; competitive tax policies that allow the U.S. to compete on a level playing field; an improved transportation system to efficiently get our products to markets; and a clear understanding and recognition of the value of recyclable materials for what they are – commodities – and not waste.
“Global trade is vital to the U.S. based recycling industry,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “In any given year, 30 to 40 percent of scrap is processed within the United States for export. In 2015 alone, U.S. commodity-grade scrap products were exported to more than 150 countries worldwide. Exporting scrap has resulted in hundreds of thousands of American jobs and billions of dollars in revenue, as well as a sharing of technology and best practices in recycling. We are proud of the industry’s role as the first link in the manufacturing supply chain.”
United States export sales of scrap significantly benefit the U.S. trade balance. Figures reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. International Trade Commission indicate that the U.S. exported more than 37 million metric tons of scrap commodities valued at $17.6 billion in 2015. Since 2004, net exports of U.S. scrap have made a positive contribution to our balance of trade amounting to nearly $200 billion. The exporting and global trading of commodities is a critical safety valve for the recycling industry, and without such the domestic market would be overly saturated with more material going into landfills.
Scrap commodities are responsible for creating more than 125,000 U.S. jobs through exports, which account for more than 26 percent of the industry’s economic activity. Approximately 28 percent of the scrap materials processed in the U.S. are exported to other countries to be manufactured into new products, assisting in the creation and expansion of jobs in the scrap industry in the U.S. In 2015, it was reported that 39,022 jobs are supported by scrap recyclers’ exporting activities; these jobs pay an average wage of $78,984. In addition to job creation, the industry generates $28.34 billion in economic benefits in the United States, contributes $1.31 billion in tax revenues for the federal government, and $1.65 billion in state and local revenues.
“While the benefit of exporting scrap goes well beyond the U.S. economy, it will continue to produce enough supply for domestic manufacturers now and far into the future,” concluded Wiener.