WASHINGTON, DC – As government and industry representatives gathered today to recognize America Recycles Day at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the North American steel industry pledged to continue its leadership role in recycling and partnerships with government, industry and recycling organizations to continue to enhance recycling. America Recycles Day is an annual event reminding Americans about the importance of recycling and buying recycled.
Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and president of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), who participated in a roundtable at the event at EPA this afternoon, said, “Each year, more steel is recycled than paper, plastic, aluminum and glass—combined. 30 years after we launched our steel recycling efforts, the steel industry is recycling three-quarters of the steel coming from the packaging market, nearly 100 percent of the automobiles at end of life, and more than 90 percent of steel from infrastructure, appliances and construction. We are leaders in recycling and look forward to continuing working with EPA and our partners to keep the momentum going.”
“Recycling is critical component of the modern steelmaking process—meaning steel scrap has a mature, established market for end-of-life steel products and an ongoing motivation to improve recycling,” he said. “More than 66 million tons of scrap is processed in North America for recycling both domestically and overseas. When multiplied across the millions of tons of steel recycled by the steel industry each year, this process conserves enough energy to electrically power one-fifth of all the homes in America.”
Gibson noted that today the steel industry also worked with EPA to extend the national vehicle mercury switch recovery program, which facilitates the removal of mercury switches from vehicles prior to scrapping. This program is the result of a collaborative effort involving EPA, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Steel Manufacturers Association, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the Automotive Recyclers Association, End of Life Vehicle Solutions, Inc., Environmental Defense, the Ecology Center (Ann Arbor), and representatives of the Environmental Council of the States. The original 2006 agreement was renewed in 2017 by members of the coalition and formally signed by EPA at today’s event.
“Mercury contamination is detrimental to the auto-scrap recycling infrastructure, and the environment, if not removed responsibly. It is imperative that we protect the steel recycling flow from contaminants. Since 2006, this program has facilitated the removal of millions of mercury switches that can be found in older model cars. We are pleased that EPA extended the program in signing this joint agreement today,” said Gibson.