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Aluminum Scrap

October 22, 2015

Aluminum holds the distinction of being both the youngest and the most widely used among all the base nonferrous metals in the U.S.  Aluminum is know to be a lightweight, ductile, malleable, and corrosion resistant metal, making it a popular choice with manufacturers.  As with other nonferrous metals, aluminum is also inherently recyclable and recycled aluminum is highly valued as a raw material input for new aluminum production.  In 2014, USGS figures show aluminum metal recovered from purchased new and old scrap in the United States totaled about 3.64 million metric tons.

Aluminum can be recycled from a wide range of obsolete products including used beverage containers, aluminum siding, old radiators, used wire and cable, automobile and truck wheels, as well as end-of-life vehicles and airplanes.  ISRI estimates that aluminum recovered scrap represented 58 percent of total U.S. apparent aluminum consumption in 2014.  In addition, the U.S. exported more than 1.7 million metric tons of aluminum scrap worldwide last year.

Of the more than 3.6 million metric tons of aluminum recovered from purchased scrap in the United States last year, USGS estimates that about 53 percent came from new (manufacturing) scrap and 47 percent from old scrap (discarded aluminum products).  The aluminum recovered from old scrap, such as aluminum cans and other obsolete products, was equivalent to about 33 percent of total U.S. apparent consumption of aluminum, according to USGS figures.  By type of consumer, the government statistics show that secondary smelters, which use aluminum scrap to create a variety of new aluminum and aluminum alloy shapes including ingots, sows, and other products, were by far the largest consumers of domestically purchased aluminum scrap last year, recovering more than 1.9 million metric tons of aluminum by metallic content.  The next largest consumers of aluminum scrap in 2014 (in order) were independent mill fabricators (1.61 million metric tons), foundries (103,000 metric tons), and other consumers (7,000 metric tons).

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