Steel is the most recycled material in the world. In fact, more steel is recycled annually then all other materials (including aluminum, glass and paper) combined. However, the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) still works to identify new sources of steel scrap for recycling and recovery. SRI, originally named the Steel Can Recycling Institute, was established in 1988 as part of a joint venture between the American Iron and Steel Institute and its tin mill member companies. In 1993, SRI dropped “Can” from its name and expanded its focus to the recycling of all steel products. The annual recycling rate of steel has increased from around 66% in the late ’80s to its current record amount of 83.3%. SRI has had a significant impact on that raise, specifically steel cans, which have jumped from 15% to 65.2%. The primary activity of SRI includes regularly providing prompt, reliable guidance and assistance to consumers, business and state, county and municipal governments on the best methods for end-of-life recycling of steel containers, appliances, automobiles and construction materials. Whether corporations handle large amounts of steel scrap responsibly or a single consumer takes a couple extra steps to keep his or her steel food can out of the trash, SRI is dedicated to educate consumers on the benefits of recycling to help motivate those efforts. One method SRI utilizes is its website, recycle-steel.org. SRI continually updates and operates a Web-based recycling database for quick and efficient solutions on local steel recycling options. With more than 33,000 recycling options, the database has been used by federal and state government agencies as well as individual consumers. This also helps SRI generate highly credible monthly and annual national statistics on recycling availability and participation. SRI releases some of these statistics by utilizing emerging communicating methods, such as social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. SRI promotes the environmental benefits of steel through these sources as The EnviroMetal™. As such, steel communicates that it is an environmentally preferred material due to the sustainable and recyclable benefits seen by manufacturers, environmental communities, industry customers and ultimately the consumer. This promotion will be expanded further in 2011 as steel’s sustainable benefits take center stage. Steel, as both a raw material and across all steel product lines, including container, construction and automotive, provides practical, environmentally sustainable options as demonstrated by life cycle assessment comparisons, especially when recycling is properly credited. Using this growing body of responsible life cycle evidence, SRI will boost steel as a credible, durable material with its outreach to government and business as well as the public. Steel will thus become well positioned in the marketplace as an environmentally preferable product. To learn more about the Steel Recycling Institute or The EnviroMetal™, visit recycle-steel.org. Casey Fenton is a communications assistant at SRI.
SRI’s Casey Fenton: Striving for Steel Sustainability
Steel is the world’s most recycled material, but the Steel Recycling Institute continues to help those recycling numbers increase.