On 14 November, America Recycles Day, the North American steel industry pledged to continue its leadership role in recycling and partnerships with government, industry and recycling organisations to continue to enhance recycling.

Thomas J Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and president of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) told a roundtable event organised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that each year, more steel is recycled than paper, plastic, aluminium and glass combined. "Thirty years after we launched our steel recycling efforts, the steel industry is recycling three-quarters of the steel coming from the packaging market, nearly 100% of the automobiles at the end of life, and more than 90% of steel from infrastructure, appliances and construction. We are leaders in recycling and look forward to continuing working with EPA and our partners to keep the momentum going," he said.

According to Gibson, recycling is a critical component of the modern steelmaking process. He said that steel scrap has a mature, established market for end-of-life steel products and an ongoing motivation to improve recycling. "More than 66Mt of scrap is processed in North America for recycling both domestically and overseas. When multiplied across the millions of tons of steel recycled by the steel industry each year, this process conserves enought energy to electrically power one-fifth of all the homes in America.

Gibson said that the steel industry has worked closely with the EPA and other organisations, including the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA), to extend the national mercury switch recovery programme, which facilitates the removal of mercury switches from vehicles prior to scrapping.

"Mercury contamination is detrimental to the auto-scrap recycling infrastructure, and the environment, if not removed responsibly."