ISRI testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that the U.S. recycled materials industry is helping to fight climate change by providing manufacturers high-quality renewable materials as replacement for extracted resources, thus lowering energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Testifying before the ITC hearing on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Intensities of the U.S. Steel and Aluminum Industries at the Product Level, ISRI Assistant Vice President of International Trade and Global Affairs Adam Shaffer described the essential role that the recycled materials industry plays in the decarbonization of the steel and aluminum sectors.

“Steel and aluminum are infinitely recyclable materials — no matter how many times a product is recycled, the material does not lose its strength or integrity. The car you drove today may have been someone else’s refrigerator in a past life, or it could have been the bridge you drove over or even the metal can containing the food you had for breakfast,” said Shaffer.

Both the steel and aluminum sectors rely heavily on the use of recycled materials to substantially lower their carbon emissions intensities, with nearly 70 percent of U.S. steel utilizing recycled steel in production and 80 percent of U.S. aluminum produced using recycled aluminum. Both the domestic steel and aluminum sectors are more efficient than their global counterparts, where only 30 percent of global steel is produced primarily using recycled content.

“The U.S. recycled materials industry plays a vital role in combatting climate change by promoting safe, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible recycling. Broadly speaking in the United States, recycled commodities annually save the equivalent of nearly 400 million tons of carbon dioxide — equal to the energy use of 48 million homes for one year,” added Shaffer.

The recycled materials industry is a crucial link in the manufacturing supply and value chains and includes companies that process, broker and consume metals, paper, plastics, glass, textiles, rubber and electronics — whether sourced from commercial, industrial or residential operations. It also includes companies that manufacture and distribute optical and infrared scanners, balers, shredders, conveyors and other machinery and transportation equipment that are used in all parts of the recycling supply chain.