• About 630 steel cans are recycled every second!
• Steel cans can be recycled in more than 20,000 locations across the country.
• Steel cans are used to package more than 1500 different kinds of food -- everything from apples to zucchini. Steel cans are also used for paints and aerosol sprays, bandages, and shoe polish. Even oil filters are a form of a steel can.
• Stack the nearly 19 billion steel cans recycled in 1996 end to end, and you would have a line stretching from here to the moon and back more than three times (based on a can height of 5 inches).
• Steel cans contain 25% recycled content and are completely recyclable.
• More than 46 million appliances - including old stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers - were recycled in 1997.
• The amount of steel recycled from appliances in 1997 would equal the amount needed to build 88 new baseball stadiums the size of the new BancOne Field in Phoenix, AZ.
• The steel weight of the average refrigerator is 100 pounds; the average weight of a 10 year old is 75 pounds.
• There are more than 12,000 places to recycle out-of-service appliances across the country.
• Because of steel, you can display your latest artwork on the door of the refrigerator. Steel's magnetic attraction also makes it one of the easiest materials to recycle.
• The number of cars recycled in 1997 alone -- nearly 13 million -- would cause a traffic jam circling the Earth more than one and three quarter times.
• Recycling just one car saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.
• Virtually every car taken off the road today is recycled -- thanks to the steel and iron content!
• It takes about 45 seconds to shred the average automobile into fist-sized pieces of steel for recycling.
• The automobile is the most recycled consumer product in the world today.
• The steel found in just six cars, when recycled, is enough to build a brand new house, using steel framing of course!
• Using steel framing to build a house means less waste! In fact, the amount of waste generated at a steel housing construction site would fit into a regular garbage can. And, more importantly, that waste can be recycled!
• What's at the heart of today's biggest skyscrapers? Steel, of course. For example, the Sears Tower in Chicago, North America's tallest building, was built with 74,000 tons of steel!
• Using recycled steel to make new steel saves energy. In fact, the steel industry saves enough energy in one year to electrically power 18 million homes for one year.
• You can't make new steel without recycled steel.
When you buy steel, you buy recycled.
Steel is a unique material because it always contains recycled steel. Each year, millions of tons of pre- and post-consumer steel products, including used steel cans, appliances, automobiles and construction materials, are recycled by steel mills into every ton of new steel produced. In fact, with the exception of the earliest steelmaking methods, recycling has always been an integral part of the steelmaking process.
What's more, all new steel products made from recycled steel can be recycled again at the end of their useful lives. Used steel cans are recycled into part of a guard rail, which may one day be recycled into an appliance. And an infrastructure of ferrous scrap processors exists to prepare all types of steel products for recycling. Processors prepare and ship steel scrap to steel mills and foundries for remelting into new steel.
Steelmaking is an inherent recycling process
Recycling is an integral part of the steelmaking process because the use of steel scrap lowers the total cost of producing new steel. Steel mills use one of two types of furnaces to make new steel.
Both furnaces recycle old steel products into new steel, but each is used to create different products for varied applications.
The first, the basic oxygen furnace, uses a minimum of 25 percent steel scrap to make new steel. This furnace produces the steel used in flat-rolled steel products, like cans, appliances and automobiles. The other type of steelmaking furnace, the electric arc furnace, melts virtually 100 percent steel scrap to make new steel. This steel is used primarily to make products that are long shapes, like steel plate, rebar and structural beams. Iron foundries also melt steel scrap to make new iron products, which contain about 75 percent scrap. These cast products include engine blocks and machinery parts.
Environmental benefits of steel recycling
Recycling steel saves energy and natural resources. In a year, the steel industry saves the equivalent energy to power about 18 million households for a year. When one ton of steel is recycled, 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved. By making recycling integral to steelmaking, the steel industry leads the buy recycled effort.
Each year, more than 62% of the steel the domestic industry produces is recycled.