Steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world, and, as of 2007, more than 78% of steel was recycled in the United States. In the United States it is the most widely recycled material; in 2000, more than 60 million metric tons were recycled.
The most commonly recycled items are containers, automobiles, appliances, and construction materials. For example, in 2007, more than 97% of structural steel and 110% of automobiles were recycled, comparing the current steel consumption for each industry with the amount of recycled steel being produced. A typical appliance is about 75% steel by weight and automobiles are about 65% steel and iron.
Copper is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality whether in a raw state or contained in a manufactured product. Copper is the third most recycled metal after iron and aluminium. It is estimated that 80% of the copper ever mined is still in use today. Common grades of copper for recycling are:
- Bare bright - very clean and pure copper wire usually 12 AWG or larger that has insulation and any tarnish removed
- #1 copper - pipe with a new appearance and free of any foreign material
- #2 copper - pipe with corrosion or foreign material and small gauge wire with no insulation