As the most commonly recycled material in the United States today, steel is reused to make everything from the metal building you might be sitting in at this very moment to the car that you may have used to get there. For over 150 years, the steel industry has been recycling this commonly-used metal alloy in order to save both money and energy. The impact has been an extremely positive one, with the statistics regarding the amount of steel recycled in a given year quite impressive indeed.
The steel that is recycled each year saves enough energy to power approximately 18 million homes for a full year. Indeed, recycling reduces the energy consumption of the steel industry by 75% as compared to what it would be if only new steel was produced from iron ore. If the latter was the business model that the industry chose to employ when making the materials for prefabricated steel building construction and thousands of other uses, far more raw materials would be required. For each ton of steel that is reused, it is estimated that an additional 1,100 kg of iron ore, 630 kg of coal, and 55 kg of limestone are saved. In 2005 alone, 76 million tons of steel was salvaged for reuse. While the amount of recycled steel in a prefabricated metal building or other construct can range from 30% to 95%, it is typically on the higher end for structural steel.