With the disruptions in global supply chains from COV-19, there is talk about relying more on domestic sources for supply for industries.
A new article in the Journal of Industrial Ecology explores the potential for U.S. material independence. The authors analyze the role and limits of a domestic circular economy where discarded products are recycled for domestic uses in reducing U.S. imports and primary production of steel. They find that U.S. steel recycling is constrained due to contamination of the steel scrap, particularly with copper wiring from cars and domestic appliances. The researchers find that, for recycling to increase in the future, there will need to be greater use of ‘design for recycling’ principles by manufacturers, and development of cheaper separation and refining technologies so that the nation’s scrap yards can remove contaminants.