• Press Release

Report: Volume of Recyclables Processed in the U.S. on the Rise

ISRI’s annual Recycling Industry Yearbook provides the most reliable,
comprehensive statistical view of the industry

(Washington, DC) – For the eighth year in a row, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) released its Recycling Industry Yearbook. It is a single source of data and information on the different aspects of the industry, including details on each of the major commodities. The book provides a clear understanding of how recyclable material is transported, processed, traded, and used in manufacturing, as well the environmental benefits. It is used by industry stakeholders, policymakers and government officials, international delegations, media, manufactures, students, and others interest in discovering more about recycling. 

“Recycling is a strong and robust industry that preserves our planet and sustains our natural resources,” said ISRI Chief Economist Joe Pickard. “The Recycling Industry Yearbook provides valuable information using facts and figures to paint an accurate picture of the important role the industry plays to the environment, economy, and manufacturing. As the public, policymakers, local communities, and media have taken a renewed interest in recycling, the book provides a valuable resource to help them rediscover the positive impact our industry has on the world in which we live.”

Key data and facts (based on the latest information at the time of publication) from the 2019 edition include:

  • 138 million metric tons of recyclable material was processed in the U.S. in 2018 (the most recent data), up from 135 million metric tons in previous years;
  • The amount of material recycled in the U.S. save the equivalent of nearly 400 million tons of greenhouse gases;
  • The recycling industry generates nearly $110 billion in economic activity, and is responsible for more than 531,000 total jobs;
  • Worldwide, manufacturers consumed over 900 million metric tons of scrap, accounting for 40% of the global industrial raw-material needs;U.S. scrap exports grew 7% by volume to 40.4 million metric tons in 2018; and
  • Ferrous scrap is the most recycled material in both the U.S. and around the world. 

In addition, each major scrap commodity has a section that contains interesting facts about that commodity’s recycling, a life cycle diagram, price trends, domestic and export markets, and other relevant information. Statistical appendices provide historical data on scrap production, recovery, and consumption; U.S. exports by commodity volume and value; and the global flows of selected scrap commodities. 

The publication was redesigned this year in a larger format and streamlined content, to be more accessible and user-friendly for the public, journalists, and policymakers while providing the most up-to-date information on the industry.

An electronic version of the 2019 Recycling Industry Yearbook is available for free.


The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) is the "Voice of the Recycling Industry™." ISRI represents 1,300 companies in 20 chapters in the U.S. and more than 40 countries that process, broker, and consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics, and textiles. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Institute provides education, advocacy, safety and compliance training, and promotes public awareness of the vital role recycling plays in the U.S. economy, global trade, the environment and sustainable development. Generating nearly $110 billion annually in U.S. economic activity, the scrap recycling industry provides more than 500,000 Americans with good jobs.

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