California has for decades led the world in recycling and in making the connection between recycling and environmental and economic sustainability.
State laws and policies promulgated in Sacramento have promoted this leadership. Individual Californians have also enthusiastically embraced recycling because they know that it helps reduce pollution, fights climate-change, reduces the need for raw materials, preserves natural resources and reduces the energy used to mine and process native ores.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of California’s recycling has relied on Asian markets that are now diminished and as a result, opportunities for Californians to recycle are declining. The state has seen the closure of hundreds of recycling facilities for consumer items (bottles, cans, paper, etc.), yet residents dutifully fill their recycling bins every week, without realizing that much of this material has nowhere to go. Trash haulers are now advising customers to discard various plastic items that were previously recycled
However, one part of the state’s recycling infrastructure – scrap-metal recycling — remains strong. The scrap metal recycling industry has been an integral part of our recycling culture at least as long as our environmental ethic has been in place. As the largest state, and a world economic powerhouse, California industry and consumers generate vast quantities of scrap metal every single day, adding up to millions of tons per year.