ISRI Report: Volume of recyclables processed in the US on the rise

For the eighth year in a row, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, has released its “Recycling Industry Yearbook,” a source of data and information on the different aspects of the industry, including details on each of the major commodities.

“Recycling is a strong and robust industry that preserves our planet and sustains our natural resources,” says ISRI Chief Economist Joe Pickard. “The ‘Recycling Industry Yearbook’ provides valuable information using facts and figures to paint an accurate picture of the important role the industry plays to the environment, economy and manufacturing. As the public, policymakers, local communities and media have taken a renewed interest in recycling, the book provides a valuable resource to help them rediscover the positive impact our industry has on the world in which we live.”

Key data and facts (based on the latest information at the time of publication) from the 2019 edition include:

  • About 138 million metric tons of recyclables were processed in the U.S. in 2018 (the most recent data), up from 135 million metric tons in previous years.
  • The amount of material recycled in the U.S. saves the equivalent of nearly 400 million tons of greenhouse gases.
  • The recycling industry generates nearly $110 billion in economic activity and is responsible for more than 531,000 total jobs.
  • Manufacturers consumed more than 900 million metric tons of scrap worldwide, accounting for 40 percent of the global industrial raw material needs.
  • U.S. scrap exports grew 7 percent by volume to 40.4 million metric tons in 2018.
  • Ferrous scrap is the most recycled material in the United States and around the world.

Each major scrap commodity has a section that contains facts about recycling, a life cycle diagram, price trends, domestic and export markets and other relevant information. The publication was redesigned this year in a larger format and with streamlined content to be more accessible and user-friendly for the public, journalists and policymakers while providing the most up-to-date information on the industry, the association says.

A free online version of the “2019 Recycling Industry Yearbook” is available at