Friday | 16 April, 2010 | 9:24 am

Still green

By Modern Metals' staff

April 2010 - "Each year, more steel is recycled than paper, plastic, aluminum and glass combined," said Greg Crawford, vice president of the Steel Recycling Institute, a unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, in a press release. "This is just one part of the steel industry's long-standing commitment to sustainability and to global leadership for our sector."

April is National Recycling Month, and, as part of the countdown to Earth Day's 40th anniversary, the SRI is helping identify ways to help consumers adopt green behaviors.

According to the SRI, in recent years, the overall steel recycling rate has exceeded 80 percent, which is partially because of increased participation by consumers in the nation's nearly 8,500 curbside recycling programs, according to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Nearly 97 percent of these curbside recycling programs accept steel cans, according to the Steel Recycling Database, which tracks national recycling options. The SRI also points out that participation in drop-off programs is also very high, and an increasing number of communities are accepting empty steel aerosol containers through their recycling program.

Cash for clunker appliances
"The Steel Recycling Database logs over 37,000 local recycling options and provides an instant snapshot of the national recycling infrastructure," Crawford noted in a press release. "Beyond steel packaging, the Steel Recycling Database can also help consumers locate options to recycle steel products that are naturally too large for the recycling bin, such as appliances."

More consumers will be recycling their appliances as a result of a new Department of Energy rebate program to trade in old, inefficient appliances for rebates on new Energy Star-certified replacements. The Steel Recycling Database on SRI's Web site can direct consumers toward the nearest recycling option for old appliances, which is often the appliance installer.

Consumers also recycled their old, inefficient automobiles last year as part of the Cash for Clunkers stimulus. SRI points out that although automobiles are recycled at a rate of nearly 100 percent for their iron and steel content, "many consumers do not realize they are recycling their automobiles when they drop them off at the scrap processor or auto dealership."

Reducing energy demands, increasing production
"The North American steel industry has been the only major industry to reduce energy demands while still increasing production," Crawford said in a press release. "In fact, based on 2008 data, the U.S. steel industry has reduced greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 by 33 percent and has improved its energy efficiency during the same period by 31 percent."

According to the EPA, recycled iron and steel save the nation 74 percent of the energy that would have been needed to make new steel. That energy would be enough to electrically power about one-fifth of the households in the U.S. (or about 20 million homes) for one year.

"National Recycling Month and Earth Day are great opportunities to encourage consumers not only to recycle and conserve but also about the sustainable advancements that have come about because of these green behaviors," Crawford said in a press release. "While the idea of saving the planet may seem overwhelming at first, a step in the right direction starts with the decision to recycle that first steel can." MM

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