Scrap metal is made up of recycled steel that is no longer viable in its current state, yet still holds significant monetary value. There are several different sources of scrap metal, the most popular of which being people, machine shops and manufacturers, and the government. Recycling rates in the US are rising rapidly, providing large returns to our economy for years to come.
Individuals make up for a large portion of the scrap metal reserve around the world. With the growing amount of consumption across the globe, there exists a valuable resource on which economies can capitalize. Aluminum cans, old bicycles, and used cars for example make up just a small portion of the vast amount of recyclable steel products that citizens produce.
Another avenue that generates large amounts of scrap metal is machine shops. Any manufacturer that uses large machinery will inevitably require new equipment due to depreciation or related technical issues, and would greatly benefit the economy as well as the environment by recycling. These manufacturers also accumulate tons of excess metals from the products that they produce. When one ton of steel is recycled, there’s an opportunity cost saving of 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 pounds of coal, and 40 pounds of limestone.
Lastly, the government uses and creates an immense amount of materials that could potentially turn into recycled scrap metal. With their stockpile of guns, ammunition, tanks, sea vessels, and aircrafts, the US government produces a large amount of recyclable metals such as copper, brass, steel, and aluminum. In fact, the US government is the single largest producer of scrap metal in the country.