Steel Facts

Image of steel items that go in Blue Bag
  • Every day, Americans use enough steel and tin cans to make a steel pipe running from Los Angeles to New York and back.
  • 37 billion steel cans weighing 2,654,892 tons were used in the U.S. in 1991.
  • 97% of all steel cans are used for food.
  • The average American uses 142 steel cans per year.
  • About 11.5 million tons of ferrous (e.g., steel and iron) waste was generated in the U.S. in 1994.
  • Americans throw away enough iron and steel to continuously supply the nation's automakers.
  • Ferrous metals constituted 5.5% of the 1994 U.S. municipal solid waste stream by weight.
  • In 1994, approximately 53.1% of all steel cans and 27.8% of steel packaging materials, such as strapping, were recycled. The overall rate of ferrous metal recovery was about 25.2%.
  • Steel food and beverage cans are recycled into a variety of products including new cans, bicycle frames, and even new cars.

Content on this page provided by Second Time Around - EPA Region 5 and Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Purdue University.