Manufacturing had its say about the value of the recycling industry during ISRI’s sixth Annual State of Recycling Briefing, on Monday, Nov. 15. The livestreamed event featured, among other speakers, Philip Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, and Delphine Dahan-Kocher, vice president of external communications and public affairs at Paris-based aluminum producer Constellium. ISRI chief lobbyist Billy Johnson moderated the discussion.

On the heels of the Glasgow Climate Pact, U.S. industry is pledging to contribute more to reducing greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. The agreement covers fossil fuels, climate finance, near-term climate goals, and a rulebook for carbon markets.

“The steel industry is doing all that it can to lead the world in decarbonization,” Bell states. 70% of steel made in the U.S. comes from electric arc furnaces, and a high percentage of U.S. steel uses recycled feedstock. Domestic production uses between 75% and 320% less carbon intensity than that produced overseas, he says. Dahan-Kocher notes that recycling is at the core of her company’s business. “Over the last 30 years, we have cut our carbon footprint by more than half,” she says.

The U.S. infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden creates opportunities for commodities in various construction and renovation projects. Aluminum is durable, recyclable, and lightweight, Dahan-Kocher notes. Bell explains that steel is “the most recycled material in the world.” That makes it possible for domestic steelmakers to use up to 95% recycled content in their production processes. “Steel really is the material of choice when we want to build back better,” he says.

Aluminum and steel speakers praised the Biden administration’s inclusion of recycling by name in the infrastructure bill. “The legislation includes programs to improve not only municipal recycling but also critical mineral recycling—that’s critical for us,” Dahan-Kocher says. She and Bell noted that recycling helps the U.S. keep independence from other countries when it comes to finding feedstocks for manufacturing.

Constellium recycles 32 billion cans per year worldwide, Dahan-Kocher says. “Everyone knows it’s much better [for the environment] to recycle, but not everyone knows it’s very good business,” she says. Bell says the U.S. steel industry is good for the world. “Steel producers are the leading recyclers throughout America and the world,” he states. “We have made advances in the domestic steel industry to the extent that now the only thing that limits us is our imagination in terms of the products that we make and the recycling that we do.”

Photo courtesy of Storyblocks. Caption: Funds in the newly signed infrastructure legislation will support building thousands of miles of new power lines across the U.S.



Dan Hockensmith

Dan Hockensmith

I'm a native Ohioan who since 2014 has called Maryland home. My background includes print, broadcast, and digital journalism; government contracting; and marketing communications.