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Recycling Works, Adapts and Helps the Economy and Environment

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The recycling industry today is innovative, competitive and capital-intensive. Shredders, shears and balers process scrap materials, while high-tech methods such as optical scanners, X-ray fluorescence and near-infrared spectroscopy sort them into pure streams of specification-grade commodities used in manufacturing that drives the global economy.

Recycling Works for the U.S. Economy

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The U. S. scrap recycling industry directly and indirectly supports more than 534,000 well paying jobs, while generating nearly $117 billion in economic activity and $13.2 billion in federal state and local tax revenue. The scrap marketplace is constantly evolving, influenced by changing supply and demand for commodities in the global marketplace.

To adapt to sometimes rapid market changes, American scrap recyclers are investing in new facilities and more technology and equipment – bringing innovation, new jobs and boosting local economies.  For example, new and restarted paper mills across North America will use significant recovered fiber from the U.S.   Municipalities are investing in new technology and hiring people to improve the quality of scrap materials bound for recycling here and abroad.

Recycling Works for the Environment

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Scrap materials are environmentally preferable and energy efficient feedstock materials supplying more than 40 percent of global manufacturing needs. Two out of every three pounds of steel made in the U.S. is manufactured using steel scrap, generating 58 percent less CO2 and using 60 percent less energy than making steel from ore. Approximately 80 percent of all U.S. paper mills use recovered fiber to make everything from paper-based packaging to tissue products to office paper and newspaper. This comes with comparable savings in energy use, as well as a 35 percent reduction in water pollution and 74 percent reduction in air emissions.  Likewise, the energy saved by recycling plastic in the U.S. is enough to power 10,000 homes each year.  Responsible recycling diverts hundreds of millions of pounds of recyclables from landfills and avoids millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas annually.  

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