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ISRI: 2018 Yearbook Confirms Recycling’s Resilience

ISRI released its seventh annual yearbook, which provides a spotlight on the industry in the wake of rising trade protectionism around the globe.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) just released its seventh annual “Recycling Industry Yearbook,” providing the most up-to-date information and statistics about the U.S. recycling industry and global scrap marketplace.

With a greater spotlight on the industry in the wake of rising trade protectionism around the globe, the publication provides a comprehensive analysis of where the industry stands based on the most current data compared to previous years. It will also serve as a baseline for years to come based on the new global market realities, noted ISRI.

“The scrap marketplace has become increasingly global in recent decades, and the United States is the largest exporter of recycled commodities in the world,” said ISRI Chief Economist Joe Pickard in a statement. “China’s rapid economic expansion was the most important driver of the swift expansion of the global scrap market, but market conditions in China are changing today given China’s rising domestic supply of scrap, investment in scrap processing and import restrictions. But as we show in the 2018 yearbook, scrap recyclers remain extremely responsive to changing market conditions and are focused on producing consistently high-quality scrap commodities to meet consumer demands at home and abroad.”

Statistical highlights from the yearbook include:

  • Preliminary data shows exports of all scrap commodities from around the world were valued at approximately $105 billion in 2017.
  • Exports of all scrap commodities from the United States increased to nearly 38 million tons valued at $17.9 billion last year.
  • Exports of scrap commodities account for well over 25 percent of the industry’s economic activity.
  • Overall, the U.S. scrap industry directly and indirectly supports 534,000 U.S. good-paying jobs, generating $117 billion in economic activity and $13.2 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
  • The U.S. scrap industry annually processes more than 130 million tons of scrap metal, paper, plastics, electronics, textiles, glass and rubber.
  • The 130 million metric tons of commodities recycled in the U.S. last year saved the CO2 (carbon dioxide) equivalent of 410 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the energy use of more than 43 million homes for one year.
  • Since 2000, net exports of U.S. scrap have made a positive contribution to our balance of trade amounting to more than $235 billion.
  • Major export destinations for U.S. scrap last year included China ($5.6 billion), Canada ($2.1 billion), Mexico ($1.1 billion), Turkey ($1 billion), India ($923 million), Germany ($910 million) and South Korea ($778 million).
  • Globally, approximately 900 million tons of recyclables were consumed by manufacturers around the world last year.

In addition, the yearbook breaks down data by commodity and provides historical information on production, recovery and consumption; scrap trade flows; and scrap prices indexes.

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