The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) issued their 2016 State of Recycling address on America Recycles Day, November 15, during a U.S. Senate Briefing and Livestream Event on Capitol Hill. The event highlighted the current economic, environmental, and social impacts of recycling in the U.S., and related policy issues.
“ISRI is proud to join Senate Recycling Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Tom Carper and Senator John Boozman in sharing the current state of the U.S. recycling industry,” said ISRI President Robin Wiener. “Recycling remains a vibrant activity and the first link in the global manufacturing supply chain, supplying nearly 50 percent of the world’s raw materials needs while providing unmistakable economic and environmental benefits in our local communities, across the country, and throughout the globe.”
The recycling industry has long been recognized as one of the world’s first green industries, born out of the need to recover and conserve valuable resources. From the earliest of times, people recognized the intrinsic value of recycling and the benefits associated with using and re-using existing materials to create new products. Rising global demand for scrap also provides a useful outlet for our excess scrap supply, with between 30 to 40 percent of the scrap processed in the U.S. annually exported to more than 150 countries around the globe. Since the year 2000, net exports of U.S. scrap have made a positive contribution to our balance of trade amounting to more than $210 billion.
“It is important to remember that recyclable materials are commodities, not waste,” said Wiener. “They are highly valuable and tradeable products, produced according to globally recognized specifications for purchase by industrial consumers – including steel mills, metal refiners, plastic manufacturers, foundries, and paper mills - to meet their raw material needs. Manufacturers value the use of scrap for the significant cost and energy savings provided.”
The Senate Briefing also featured a panel focused on plastics recycling to include representatives from the plastics recycling industry and Keep America Beautiful.
ISRI says they celebrated America Recycles Day by applauding all individuals who make a strong effort to recycle as part of daily life, and encouraging all to learn more about recycling and the industry. America Recycles Day is a national initiative of Keep America Beautiful, and takes place every November 15 in an effort to promote and celebrate recycling in the U.S.
“Each year America Recycles Day provides us with an important reminder not only of the need to recycle, but also the positive impact the recycling industry has on the environment, energy savings, and the economy,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI.”
Recycling is the first link in the manufacturing supply chain. Just last year, the U.S. recycling industry transformed more than 130 million metric tons of scrap metal, paper, plastic, glass, textiles, rubber, and electronics into specification grade commodities for use in new products.
While 70 percent of the recycled commodities processed last year in the United States was consumed at home, the global scrap market also provides a useful outlet for our nation’s excess scrap supply. U.S. export sales of recycled scrap significantly benefit the U.S. trade balance. In 2015, the United States exported more than 37 million metric tons of scrap commodities, valued at $17.5 billion. In fact, since 2000, net exports of United States scrap have made a positive contribution to our balance of trade amounting to more than $210 billion.
Recycling facilities provide jobs all across the country. In fact, last year the U.S. scrap recycling industry directly and indirectly supplied more than 470,000 Americans with employment. These workers earned $30.8 billion in wages and benefits. The industry paid $11.2 billion in direct federal, state, and local taxes.
Recycling conserves our limited natural resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by significantly saving the amount of energy needed to manufacture the products that we buy, build, and use every day. The energy saved by recycling may then be used for other purposes, such as heating our homes and powering our automobiles.