Scrap markets are global. Scrap material moves to where demand directs it regardless of its original location. As a world-traded commodity, scrap is less dependent on local supplies and markets: recyclers process materials to a specification-grade as demanded by their customers, becoming a key feedstock utilized in manufacturing new products worldwide. Thus, more than 800 million metric tons of scrap commodities are consumed worldwide each year.
Rising global demand for scrap is good for the environment and for the United States. It provides a useful outlet for excess scrap supply. U.S. export sales of scrap also significantly benefit the U.S. trade balance. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. International Trade Commission, the United States exported more than 41 million metric tons of scrap commodities valued at $20.3 billion to more than 150 countries in 2018. Even as the international scrap trade is facing challenges, this represents a 7% volume increase and 13% value increase over 2017.