Fast Facts

1.8 Annual economic impact, in billions of dollars, of the recycling industry.

8,174 Jobs created by the recycling industry in Kentucky

447.7 Annual wages, in millions of dollars, paid by the recycling industry.

23% The United States provides 23% of the world supply of recovered copper.

1.4% Copper represents about 1.4% of materials recycled in the United States.

5thOf the nine major categories of scrap materials recycled in the U.S., copper ranks fifth behind iron and steel, paper, aluminum, and electronics.

130130 million metric tons of scrap materials are processed annually in the United States.

AIAt one time, aluminum was more valuable than gold!

75%Over 75% of waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it.

25mAmericans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour.

x24In 2009, Americans produced enough trash to circle the Earth 24 times.

26kThe United States annually recycles enough copper to provide the copper content of more than 26,000 Statues of Liberty.

Scrap Recycling Provides Jobs and Resources for American Manufacturing

Source: The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) . As a critical link in the manufacturing supply chain, scrap recycling has been integral to the U.S. economy, job creation, resource sustainability, energy savings and global trade for more than 200 years.


Scrap recycling has evolved as the major industry dedicated to transforming materials to create new products and driving economies. Today, the U.S. scrap recycling industry employs more than 137,000 people.


The scrap recycling industry annually transforms more than 130 million metric tons of obsolete materials from consumers, businesses and manufacturers into useful raw materials. Without scrap recycling, more mining and use of virgin natural resources would be required. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions by significantly saving the amount of energy needed to manufacture the products that we buy, build and use. The energy saved by recycling can then be used for other purposes like heating our homes and powering our automobiles.

Ferrous Scrap Recycling

Steel is the most recycled material both in the United States and worldwide. In the United States alone, 74 million metric tons of ferrous scrap was processed by the scrap recycling industry last year, more than 55% of the volume of all domestically processed material. Obsolete ferrous scrap is recovered from automobiles, steel structures, household appliances, railroad tracks, ships, farm equipment and other sources. In addition, scrap generated from industrial and manufacturing sources accounts for approximately half of the ferrous scrap supply.

Nonferrous Scrap Recycling

Nonferrous metals, including aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin, zinc and others, are among the few materials that do not degrade or lose their chemical or physical properties in the recycling process. As a result, nonferrous metals have the capacity to be recycled an infinite number of times.

More than eight million metric tons of nonferrous scrap was processed in the United States last year from a wide array of consumer, commercial and industrial sources: everything from copper and precious metal circuitry in electronic devices, to soft-drink containers, automobile batteries and radiators, aluminum siding, airplane parts and more.

Interesting Facts

Global Trade