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Why is Steel Sustainable?

Steel is North America’s most recycled material.  This is because steel scrap is an essential raw material in making new steel.  These are just a few of the reasons that you should choose steel for your next project:

  • It is 100% Recyclable – All steel can be recycled.
  • It is Recycled Infinitely – Steel products can be recycled again and again to make new products of the same high quality.
  • It is Energy Efficient – Steel requires less energy to make than other metals, which saves resources like coal, gas, oil, and water.
  • It is Getting Lighter – Steel food cans are now 31% lighter.
  • It is Easy to Recover – Since steel is magnetic, it is easy to recover from household trash.

Check out each section for some relevant steel recycling facts.


Steel is a unique material because it always contains recycled steel.  In fact, two out of every three pounds of new steel are produced from old steel, reducing the amount of virgin iron ore needed.

Steelmakers have improved efficiencies, dramatically reducing the amount of scrap generated at the mill.  In addition, lighter, stronger grades of steel are being used in automobiles, appliances, and other products, reducing the weight of steel required.

These advances have made the United States steel industry the only major industry to reduce energy demands while still increasing production.


Two out of every three pounds of new steel are produced from old steel.  It is the most recycled material in the world with an overall recycling rate of 83%.

Each year, more steel is recycled than all other materials, including aluminum, glass, and paper combined.

Today, virtually all hazardous waste once generated by the steel industry is now being recycled for beneficial use.  More than 95% of the water used for steelmaking is recycled, typically returning water cleaner than when it was taken from its source.

Modern techhnologies produce steel in two ways, both of which use old steel to make new.  The BOF, or basic oxygen furnace process, uses about 25% old steel.  Most “tin” cans are made from steel using the BOF process.  The EAF, or electric arc furnace process, identified predominantly with “mini” mills, uses about 80% old steel to make new steel.


Just look at some of the facts surrounding steel recycling:

Every ton of steel that is recycled saves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.

The energy saved each year by steel recycling would power about one-fifth of the homes in the United States (0r about 20 million homes for 12 months).

The amount of recycled steel would yield enough material to build 185,000 steel framed homes each year.

In the United States, more than 86 million tons of steel were recycled or exported for recycling in 2011.

To learn more fun facts about steel recycling, and why steel is our most sustainable material, please visit the Steel Recycling Institute.