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Much of the world has become aware of both the benefits and the necessity of recycling. Experts have convinced most that continuing down a wasteful path will prove to be filled with detrimental consequences.

Steel is a material vital to many things in our world. Recycling steel saves both resources and money. Most importantly, recycling steel is gentler on our planet. Here are some eye-opening facts about steel in the age of recycling, facts which you may not be aware of.

The most recycled product in North America

  • Steel is one of the few materials that we make products with that will not lose any of its strength or durability when recycled. No matter how many times it is recycled, steel remains exactly the same. Steel is the only construction material that is 100-percent recyclable, which helps make steel the most recycled product in North America.
  • In 2006 alone, more than 14 million cars in North America were recycled to make new products out of steel. While most car manufacturers do not input recycled steel back into new cars, the steel from old vehicles is still valuable for new things.
  • Since 2000, the amount of steel removed from commercial demolitions that has been reverted to steel recycling plants has ballooned to more than 95-percent. Much of this steel is used for new guard rails, playground equipment, or a variety of other useful projects.
  • The popularity of steel home roofs has nearly doubled over the last decade. It’s estimated that more than three-quarters of the steel used to manufacture steel roofing comes from recycled steel.
  • One of the largest supplies of recycled steel comes from steel cans. In the United States alone, more than 600 steel and tin cans are recycled every second.
  • While it can take up to 40 trees to create enough timber to frame one normal size home, a house can be framed with the steel from four recycled cars. A steel frame house is also stronger. Hurricane and wind resistance ratings for steel frame construction are nearly triple of a conventional wood frame structure.

Electric Arc Furnace

  • One aspect of the new Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) is better energy efficiency. However, an EAF also uses only recycled, scrap steel. EAF furnaces make special alloys and stainless steel grades, plus the process can produce as much 150 tons of steel in a single melt.
  • A ton of recycled steel will save valuable resources. It takes 2,500 tons of iron ore to make the same quantity of new steel. This also saves four-cubic yards of landfill space and nearly 11-million Btu’s of energy.

It takes steel more than 100 years to biodegrade

  • Steel that is not recycled is slow to biodegrade. It takes steel more than 100 years to biodegrade in a landfill. Since all steel can be recycled, recycling is not only efficient, but wise for the earth.
  • By recycling just seven steel food cans, we can save enough electrical energy to light a 60-watt light bulb for more than a day.
  • Steel mills that use recycled steel can reduce the level of water and air pollution by nearly 75-percent. This doesn’t even account for the reduced levels of mining pollution created by unearthing fresh iron ore.
  • In the United States alone, people use enough products made from steel to construct a steel pipeline that would stretch from coast to coast and back again.
  • In North America alone, recycling steel has created more than 100,000 new jobs. The process of collecting and transferring recycled steel back to steel manufacturers has done nothing to harm the available job market for steelworkers.
  • There is an estimated 250 billion tons of scrap metal generated every year in the United States alone. This amount of recycled steel would weigh more than 70 million standard automobiles.
  • Nearly every major appliance has a large percentage made from steel. Most appliances have as much as 99 pounds of steel in the final product. All of this steel can be recycled to make new appliances, or other steel products.

These are some interesting facts about how recycling has become an integral part of the steel industry. By recycling steel we do not limit jobs in the steel industry, but we do create additional jobs to handle the recycling process.

Next time you think about tossing a food can into the normal garbage bin, think twice. The metal from that single can could easily be turned into something steel, and something special. Most of all, it’s the right thing to do.