US Aluminum Recycling

Aluminum made from recycled scrap made up the majority of aluminum used in the US for the first time in 2018.

This was driven by two things. China first imposed much higher quality standards on imported recyclable material then followed by imposed a 50% tariff on US scrap aluminum. A glut of recyclable aluminum in the US resulted. . The Trump Admin’s tariffs on foreign aluminum also contributed. Imports went down 20% and domestic production went up 20%. US new aluminum production cannot keep up with demand – so recycling got a boost.

Much scrap aluminum in the USA comes from recycled cars and torn down buildings. That aluminum is harder to process and commands a lower price than scrap from cans which is easy to process. But I was unaware that scrapped cars were such a huge source of recycled aluminum.

I’ve always told my wife that if a bum won’t pick it up that the recyclable material had no market value. She would sometimes fume if I got busy and only recycled the drink cans. I told her that the cans were the only thing profitable.

My parents recycled starting back in the 1960s. Dad figured out that he could make a few bucks recycling the newspapers we subscribed to and he would pay less in trash costs (we had private garbage service because we did not live in a city). Thus, we recycled. He also had the home he built in the mid-1970s installed with a lot of florescent lighting because again, it saved him money. As children of the depression, my family was all about the cash and not about the tree-hugging eco-loonism that started in the 1970s.

[the 2018 recycling data comes from page B1 of the 1/17/19 Wall St. Journal].

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