Other Languages

LangGerman LangChi langFr

International Trade


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.


Key Markets


International Scrap Trade Data

The scrap market has become increasingly global in nature in recent decades. While the United States is the largest exporter of recycled commodities in the world and China is the world’s dominant consumer of commodities (including scrap), the scrap marketplace is far from bilateral, stretching to virtually every corner of the globe.


Have Questions?

Adina Renee Adler
Assistant Vice President, International Affairs
(202) 662-8514