Recycling Rates

Steel is vital to a modern, sustainable society. The same steel that enables manufacturers to make lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and taller, safer structures is also the most recycled material in the world, more than all other materials combined.

The overall recycling rate of steel is 86 percent based on the most recent data compiled by SRI through 2014. Steelmaking furnaces consumed nearly 70 million tons of domestic steel scrap in 2014. All steel is 100 percent recyclable and more steel is recycled each year than aluminum, copper, paper, glass and plastic combined. Recycling rates for autos are often near or more than 100 percent as older vehicles being recycled are often heavier than new cars, which are lighter and more fuel-efficient through the use of advanced high-strength steels.

Even while two out of every three tons of new steel are produced from old steel, it is still necessary to continue to use some quantities of virgin materials. This is true because many steel products remain in service as durable goods for decades at a time and demand for steel around the world continues to grow.

Steel is the engine that drives the recycling of many consumer goods as can be seen by the 95 percent recycling rate of automobiles, the 88 percent recycling rate of appliances and the 70 percent recycling rate of steel packaging.

Recycling Rates - Appliances


Recycling Rates - Construction

Structural Steel Graph  

Recycling Rates - Automotive


Recycling Rates - Packaging