Steel is North America’s top recycled material as it is both economically advantageous and environmentally preferred. Recycled steel requires 33% less energy and 32% less CO2 emissions to produce when compared to the production of steel from virgin materials alone.81 Scrap is the steel industries single largest source of material. In fact, over the past 50 years, 50% of steel produced in the U.S. has
been recycled process.82
Steel recycling is paramount to the continued development of infrastructure, both within developed nations and developing nations alike. Steel sparked the Industrial Revolution and helped shape a nation out of the frontier; now in the 21st century, rapidly developing nations
such as China and
India rely on necessary
steel as their
valuable natural resource is imminent according to the Worldwatch Institute, which estimates that iron ore reserves could be fully depleted within 64 years based on conservative
2% growth in consumption per year.83
consumption of iron ore currently grows at 10% per annum on average, with the United States being one of the world’s top consumer.84
A limited supply of steel will inevitably slow human development and diminish our options on how to build a sustainable future. Yet, the U.S. government’s ongoing dumping of vessels at sea continues to remove valuable scrap metal from circulation within the domestic marketplace and necessitates environmentally damaging primary metals mining, refining and manufacture. With a surplus of obsolete ships
Jeremiah Johnson, B.K. Reck, T. Wang and T.E. Graedel, The energy benefit of stainless steel recycling, Energy Policy. Volume 36, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 181-192. http://www.recycle-steel.org/rates.html Brown, Lester Plan B 2.0, New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. p. 109 http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS141349+01- 81 82 83 84
containing millions of tons of scrap steel, it is in the best interests of everyone to responsibly manage and protect this valuable resource rather than squander it by allowing it to erode on the ocean floor.
One example of how basic metals are becoming critical metals is demonstrated by the limited stock of armor plating noted in December 2004 as a major cause for concern amongst army personnel in Iraq.
Spc. Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard told Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense in 2004, that troops in Kuwait were forced to rummage through landfills for scrap metal to rig armor for their vehicles before storming Iraq.85 When asked about the shortage or armor plating in vehicles operating in Iraq, Rumsfeld responded, "It's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it."86 As of December 2004, of the 30,000 wheeled vehicles U.S. troops operated throughout the Middle East and Central Asia,
protection.87 This shortage of armor plating, including the benign and peaceful use of such material, will continue to escalate if natural resources are not preserved, reused, recycled
and recycled again.
Over the past decade alone
, the Federal
government has sunk 95 vessels at sea, amounting to 600,000 tons of recyclable material, worth an estimated half a billion dollars in scrap metal. Appendix B shows this list of vessels and their combined material weight. Nearly all vessels listed in Appendix B are Surface Combatant class vessels. Using the recovery indices for different ship types per the 2001 RAND Report, Disposal Options for Ships, a report sponsored by the Navy itself, one
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/complete/la-fg- armor10dec10,1,308448.story?page=1 IBID. IBID. 85 86 87
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