Steel continues to be North America’s most recycled product, with scrap steel coming from cans, vehicles, appliances, construction materials and other steel sources.
In 2001, the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) reported that nearly 66 million tons of steel was recycled. This represents a gain of 5.7% over the previous year and an overall recycling rate of of 67.8%, up from about 64% on 2000.
Automobiles made the most significant increase for the year, up to 101.9% from 95.4% in 2000. The figures are calculated, by comparing the amount of steel used to manufacture new cars, to that derived from recycled cars. The gain is largely due to the incorporation of high strength steels into new car designs, thus requiring less steel to provide similar amounts of protection and the figure above 100%.
Recycling rates for other categories were:
• Cans remained almost static at 58.1%
• Appliances underwent a marginal gain to post an 85% recycling rate
• Construction materials maintained an impressive recycling rate of about 95%
• Other steel products such as reinforcing bar increased slightly to 50%. Increases in this area have been attributed to an increased rate of separation from concrte materials.
Steel technologies such as the basic oxygen furnace (BOF) and the electric arc furnace (EAF) contribute to the high rates of steel recycling. BOF technolgy utilises about 25% recycled materials to produce output, while EAF technology uses 100% scrap steel.