Steel is the most recycled material in the United States, with scrap being the most common source of recycled steel. It is far more economical to recycle steel than it is to manufacture it. Therefore, steel-making furnaces have been modified to use scrap. There is a variety of collection programs for steel, and approximately half of the steel in the United States is recycled. The steel recycling infrastructure will continue to grow and increase the amount of steel that is recycled.
Electric arc furnace (EAF)The EAF process uses an electric current to melt and refine the steel. This process is able to use almost 100-percent recovered steel.
Prompt scrap steelPrompt scrap steel comes directly from the manufacture of new products made of steel. This type of scrap steel is generally made into new steel over a period of months.
Industrial scrapIndustrial scrap is created as a result of manufacturing processes, usually in the form of sheet cuttings and turnings. This type of scrap may also come from rejects.
Basic oxygen furnace (BOF)A BOF uses a blast furnace and very pure oxygen to recycle steel. This process is able to use 25- to 35-percent recycled steel.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides a description of the BOF process as it pertains to recycling steel.
Home scrapHome scrap comes directly from the foundry, mill or refinery. It can usually be re-melted and used to make new steel without leaving the plant.
BalersBalers are devices that arrange steel containers, such as cans, into a desired size and shape so they can be recycled. Local markets may not require these items to be baled to any particular specification, as they may accept loose containers. The steel industry, however, may require bales to be in a specific size and shape.
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality describes the use of various devices, such as balers, that prepare steel containers for recycling.