One of the positive side effects of an international trade war could be reducing imports by recycling more steel and aluminium. Many commentators expect the imposition of tariffs on imported steel and aluminium to increase what American companies and consumers pay for those metals, and the products made from them.
After eight years of research, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Daniel Cooper, believes steel and aluminium companies can be made to be more efficient with recycling; making it possible for the US to slash imports of these metals.
Professor Cooper argues that making more of the nation’s discarded steel and aluminium could provide positive economic advantages as well as providing positive improvements to the community in cutting pollution and energy consumption.
The US makes most of its steel and aluminium by recycling scrap metal from manufacturers and from discarded products such as demolished buildings, old cars and thrown away cans.
The US imported about 36 million metric tons of steel in 2017, but researchers estimate that 40 million metric tons of that metal was either exported as scrap or dumped into landfill.
The situation with aluminium is equally challenging. 6.2 million metric tons are imported as new metal with 4.4 million metric tons produced in the US. 3.3 million metric tons is dumped into landfill and 1.6 million metric tones exported as scrap.
Researchers estimate that only 65% of old US steel products, and between 40 and 65% of discarded American aluminium products are collected for recycling. The rest of that metal ends up in landfill.
With rising energy costs more Australian companies are looking at how they can recycle more effectively to generate a more positive return from their waste. Recycal and sister-company CMA Ecocycle have experienced and qualified teams to assist client companies with their metal, e-waste and waste management problems to achieve the best return possible.