ISRI releases 2012 recycling numbers

ISRI releases 2012 recycling numbers

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has released its 2012 Scrap Yearbook, which provides a comprehensive overview of the scrap recycling industry in the U.S. with sections on specific commodities.

According to the Yearbook, in 2011 aluminum recovered from purchased scrap in the U.S. totaled over 3 million metric tons, of which about 54 percent came from manufacturing scrap and 46 percent came from discarded aluminum products. Looking at the U.S. aluminum market, it was found that total consumption of the metal was over 5.5 million metric tons with around 3 million consumed domestically, while over 2 million tons exported.

Looking at used aluminum beverage containers, between 2001 and 2011, the percent of aluminum cans collected for recycling has risen from 55.4 percent to 65.1 percent.

According to the yearbook, 31 percent of all glass containers were recycled in 2011 and recycled glass is substituted for up to 70 percent of raw materials used in making new glass. Additionally, the report states that, in 2011, 39 percent of glass beer and soft drink containers, 18 percent of wine and liquor containers and 18 percent of food jars were recovered for recycling.

In 2011, according to the report, recovered paper exports from the U.S. reached $3.8 billion, up 14 percent from 2010 and double the 2005 total. Last year's biggest customers for recovered paper and fiber shipments included China ($2.28 billion), Mexico ($315 million), India ($302 million), Korea ($223 million) and Canada ($194 million).

Citing numbers from the National Association for PET Container Resources, the yearbook states that the gross recycling rate for PET container bottles grew from 22 percent in 2001 to 29 percent in 2011.

"While one can picture so much opportunity for growth in plastics recycling, many challenges exist, ranging from the false perception by many that recycled materials are somehow inferior to virgin materials to archaic laws and regulations that never contemplated the possibility of recycling plastics," reads the yearbook. It also states that other challenges to increasing plastics recycling include a patchwork of state laws and a lack of direction from industry stakeholders.

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