Metal Recycling

August 24, 2023

Copper Industry Experts: U.S. Must Retain Its Scrap Material versus Exporting

Tom Stanek

ISRI 2023 featured a moderated panel discussion, “Spotlight on Copper.” Panelists included John Gross, John E. Gross Consulting, and publisher of The Copper Journal; David Schilberg, Metal Buyer, Prime Materials Recovery; and Matt Bedingfield, President of Recycling, Wieland N.A. Recycling.

John Gross led the discussion with a presentation of detailed charts. The U.S. is seeing a resurgence in copper recycling – as well as secondary smelting facilities being built.

Global competition for copper will increase, with China indicating that they plan on increasing their import of the material. According to Gross’ data, China is the scrap market. China imports 32% of the world’s scrap – while the U.S. exports 18%.

The Copper Journal - Copper Exports

Figure 1: © The Copper Journal

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January 31, 2023

Manufacturers Use Recycled Aluminum, Copper, to Meet Sustainability Goals

Tom Stanek

Global manufacturers have set ambitious targets for using recycled materials to meet sustainability goals. According to Boston Consulting Group, Coca-Cola wants to use 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030; General Motors wants to increase its share of sustainable materials to 50% or more this decade. (Source)

For a company like Coca-Cola, using recycled aluminum for its beverage cans makes sense: the material requires about 5% of the energy needed to produce new aluminum, plus aluminum can be recycled infinitely.

Nespresso is another company using recycled aluminum to meet sustainability goals.

Nespresso Coffee Capsules: 80% recycled aluminum


© Nespresso

Nespresso, a B-Corp owned by Nestlé, has always focused on reducing waste and reusing product materials.

In 1991, the company created a recycling program that allowed its customers to return used coffee capsules – either to a Nespresso store or by mailing them in – versus tossing them in the trash. (In fact, the current coffee machines have mechanisms that eject the used capsules into a built-in holding container.)

In 2020, Nespresso announced the launch of its first coffee capsules made using 80% aluminum. Today, the entire coffee line incorporates recycled aluminum, and the company’s recycling efforts include 100,000 collection points worldwide for the capsules.

In addition, the company is the co-founder of the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative, which is focused on the “responsible production, sourcing, and stewardship in the global aluminum value chain.” (Source)

To learn more about the company and its environmental commitment, visit:

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January 6, 2023

Consumer Products Incorporate Recycled Steel to Support Environmental Sustainability

Tom Stanek

From food products touting “made with 100% renewable energy” to clothing items made from recycled plastic, consumer products manufacturers now proudly proclaim their stewardship of the environment via their sustainable manufacturing processes.


Vermont Coffee: Roasted with 100% renewable energy

Environmental sustainability isn’t new: recycling scrap metal is the forerunner of the current movement. And today, metal recyclers are just as “earth friendly,” with processes that use less energy and generate fewer pollutants.

Recycled material is vital to our supply chain. U.S. steelmakers, for example, rely on recycled iron and steel to produce new steel. In 2019, U.S. steel mills consumed more than 60 million metric tons of the recycled material to produce 87 metric tons of steel. (Source: ISRI)

Producing new material from recycled scrap provides many environmental benefits: Using recycled material requires 60% less energy and reduces CO2 emissions by 58% when compared to producing steel from virgin materials. (Source: ditto)

When you think of steel, however, you generally picture steel beams, plates, tubing, etc. – the heavy material used for buildings, bridges, roads, signage, industrial products, etc. or perhaps vehicles and appliances.

But you may not be aware that more of the products we use every day contain recycled steel – and that manufacturers are touting their use of the material as a way to meet their environmental sustainability goals.

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June 13, 2022

The Start of Metal Recycling and Its Current Impact: WW2 Scrap Drives

Tom Stanek

Scrap Metal Drive WWII — Courtesy of

Legend has it that one of the first contracts the U.S. Continental Congress penned was for muskets, which were to be used in the Revolutionary War effort. The Founders then penned another for gathering the scrap metal needed to help supply the craftsmen that made the muskets.

Revolutionary War muskets (or long guns) were actually made from wood with metal parts, which included the steel bayonets.

However, it stands to reason that the newly created Congress pushed for weaponry and other war items to be manufactured from recycled material whenever possible: the fledging United States was cash strapped.

According to information at Recycle Nation, George Washington urged the reuse of worn chains from frigates, while Paul Revere advertised for scrap metal of all kinds.

The American Civil War also saw collection for recyclable materials for both the North and South. People donated church bells, steeples, pots and pans – anything that could be used for the war effort.

But other than wars, when the need for metal was great, Americans didn’t consistently recycle metal goods. In fact, when World War 2 began, an “estimated 1.5 million tons of scrap metal lay useless on U.S. farms – enough to build 139 battleships weighing 900 tons each, 750,000 tanks 18-27 tons each, or countless airplanes, weapons and other materials.” (Source)

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