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Circular 1196-Z v. 1.1

Flow Studies for Recycling Metal Commodities in the United States

Nickel Recycling in the United States in 2004

By Thomas G. Goonan

version 1.1

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As one of a series of reports that describe the recycling of metal commodities in the United States, this report discusses the flow of nickel from production through distribution and use, with particular emphasis on the recycling of industrial scrap (new scrap) and used products (old scrap) in 2004. This materials flow study includes a description of nickel supply and demand for the United States to illustrate the extent of nickel recycling and to identify recycling trends. Understanding how materials flow from a source through disposition can aid in improving the management of natural resource delivery systems. In 2004, the old scrap recycling efficiency for nickel was estimated to be 56.2 percent. In 2004, nickel scrap consumption in the United States was as follows: new scrap containing 13,000 metric tons (t) of nickel (produced during the manufacture of products), 12 percent; and old scrap containing 95,000 t of nickel (articles discarded after serving a useful purpose), 88 percent. The recycling rate for nickel in 2004 was 40.9 percent, and the percentage of nickel in products attributed to nickel recovered from nickel-containing scrap was 51.6 percent. Furthermore, U.S. nickel scrap theoretically generated in 2004 had the following distribution: scrap to landfills, 24 percent; recovered and used scrap, 50 percent; and unaccounted for scrap, 26 percent. Of the 50 percent of old scrap generated in the United States that was recovered and then used in 2004, about one-third was exported and two-thirds was consumed in the domestic production of nickel-containing products.

Revised April 29, 2009

First posted March 11, 2009

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Goonan, T.G., 2009, Nickel recycling in the United States in 2004, in Sibley, S.F., Flow studies for recycling metal commodities in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1196–Z, p. Z1–Z30.

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