U.S. Geological Survey
Supersedes Open-File Report 03-049
By Jozef Plachy
Recycling of cadmium is a young and growing industry that has been influenced by environmental concerns and regulatory constraints. Domestic recycling of cadmium began in 1989 as a byproduct of processing of spent nickel-cadmium batteries. In 1995, International Metals Reclamation Co. Inc. expanded its operations by building a dedicated cadmium recycling plant. In 2000, an estimated 13 percent of cadmium consumption in the United States was sourced from recycled cadmium, which is derived mainly from old scrap or, to lesser degree, new scrap. The easiest forms of old scrap to recycle are small spent nickel-cadmium batteries followed by flue dust generated during recycling of galvanized steel and small amounts of alloys that contain cadmium. Most of new scrap is generated during manufacturing processes, such as nickel-cadmium battery production. All other uses of cadmium are in low concentrations and, therefore, difficult to recycle. Consequently, much of this cadmium is dissipated and lost. The amount of cadmium in scrap that was unrecovered in 2000 was estimated to be 2,030 metric tons, and an estimated 285 tons was recovered. Recycling efficiency was estimated to be about 15 percent.
Circular 1196-O [565-KB PDF file]
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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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