Material Efficiency for Increased Effectiveness
Manufacturing is a key driver of quality of life in both developed and developing economies and the current industrial model relies on access to large quantities of raw materials and energy. In the United States, roughly a quarter of energy consumed goes into the manufacturing sector. With the growth of world population and the desire for continued worldwide economic growth, there is a concern about the amount of new raw materials required for manufacturing. Will the needed materials be available, and what will the impact be on the environment due to continued industrial growth?
Recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse are ways to reduce demand for newly mined virgin materials, and this system of keeping materials active and productive in the economy (described as the circular economy) is also significant business opportunity. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, scrap recovery and recycling added $106 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015 while significantly reducing energy demand. For example, steel recycling uses 58 percent less energy than steel produced from ore, similarly, recycling of aluminum, paper, and plastics saves 90 percent, 68 percent and 87 percent respectively of the energy required to produce from virgin (new) material.