The most commonly recycled material in the world is steel. As of 2008, 83% of the steel in the United States was recycled; that’s about 60 million metric tons. Much of this steel comes from old automobiles which are crushed and then recycled into new components, usually for new cars. Steel recycling isn’t new, either. It’s been around for over 150 years, largely because it’s economical–it’s much cheaper to produce fresh steel using recycled iron than it is to go out and mine new iron ore every time you need to produce steel. Steel also doesn’t degrade at all during the recycling process, so it’s a win-win; a steel producer will save money and not lose any quality by using recycled metal. This is different than, say, newsprint, which can only be recycled a certain number of times before it degrades to the point where it’s no longer usable.
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