By Paul Ploumis (ScrapMonster Author)
September 27, 2016 04:59:34 AM
ALBANY (Scrap Monster): The recently released 2016 Scrap Yearbook by the Washington-headquartered Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) indicates that the value of nonferrous scrap exports by the US accounted for more than 50% of the total scrap recycling industry earnings in 2015. However, in terms of volume, nonferrous metals accounted only for 6% of the total materials recycled in the country during the past year.
The Yearbook notes that nonferrous scrap is mainly consumed by secondary smelters, refiners, ingot makers, foundries and other industrial consumers within the US and in over 70 countries across the globe. More than 8 million metric tons of nonferrous scrap valued at around $32 billion was processed in the country during 2015. As per BIR estimates, almost 40% of the global copper demand is met using recycled material. Also, more than 80% of the zinc available for recycling is eventually recycled.
Among base nonferrous metals, Aluminum is the most widely used in the US. The aluminum metal recovered from purchased new and old scrap in the US totaled around 3.46 million metric tons in 2015. The aluminum recovered scrap accounted for more than 50% of the total US apparent aluminum consumption in 2015. The total aluminum usage during the year was estimated at 6.719 million metric tons during the year, whereas the aluminum recovered from scrap totaled 3.460 million metric tons. Also, the country exported 1.554 million metric tons of aluminum scrap worldwide during 2015.
Out of the 3.460 million metric tons of aluminum recovered from purchased scrap, around 54% came from new scrap and the balance 46% came from old scrap. The aluminum recovered from old scrap such as aluminum cans and other obsolete products represented nearly 30% of the total US apparent aluminum consumption. Secondary smelters were the largest consumers of domestically purchased aluminum scrap during the year 2015. The next largest consumers were independent mill fabricators followed by foundries.
The global demand for aluminum scrap has risen sharply over the past decade. The US exports of aluminum scrap totaled nearly 1.6 million metric tons in 2015, significantly higher when matched with the exports of fewer than 1.1 million metric tons during 2005. The largest overseas buyer of aluminum scrap from the US during 2015 was China. The Chinese aluminum scrap imports totaled around 875,000 metric tons, accounting for over 56% of the US exports during the year.
The copper recovered from purchased new and old scrap in the US totaled around 830,000 metric tons in 2015. Old scrap provided 160,000 metric tons of copper, whereas purchased new scrap contributed 670,000 metric tons. The total aluminum usage during the year was estimated at 2.450 million metric tons during the year. The total scrap usage in the country accounted for 34% of total US apparent consumption of refined copper. The largest importer of US copper scrap during 2015 was China. Mainland China and Hong Kong imported 682,000 metric tons of copper and copper alloy scrap, valued at $1.7 billion, representing 71% of US export volumes. The other key destinations of US copper scrap exports were Canada ($246 million), Germany ($170 million) and South Korea ($133 million).
Nearly 45% of the primary nickel consumed in the US during 2015 went into stainless and alloy steel production. Also, around 102,000 tons of nickel was recovered from purchased scrap during the year. Additionally, 1.12 million metric tons of secondary lead was produced in the US last year.