Steel production and scrap consumption leading markets 2019

In 2019, roughly 1.5 billion metric tons of steel were produced in only seven regions, with China producing the majority at 996 million tons of steel. Globally, the consumption of steel scrap increased by 3.4 percent between 2018 and 2019.

Steel scrap exports

Since the first industrial revolution, steel has been one of the key materials used in industrial production. With environmental awareness on the rise, companies are now prioritizing the use of recycled metals in the production process. Used metals are crushed and shredded into scraps which can be conveniently transported and used in the production cycle. China is the leading user of steel scrap worldwide. Among the leading exporters of steel scrap, the U.S. exported over 24 million metric tons in 2011, which decreased to 18 million metric tons in 2019. Canada is also one of the major steel scrap exporters globally. For the past couple of decades, the country’s steel scrap exports have shown a positive trend, reaching 4.3 million metric tons by 2019.

The global stainless steel market

In little over a decade, the global stainless steel production more than doubled in volume, reaching over 52 million metric tons by 2019. To meet the increasing need for stainless steel, scrap imports increased over the recent years as well. In 2018, Western European countries exported over 3.7 million metric tons of stainless steel scrap. In that period, the total global export amounted to roughly 6.1 million metric tons of stainless steel scrap. While steel and iron have the highest recycling rates for metals, many other materials are still not repurposed, which poses a significant sustainability challenge.

Steel production and scrap consumption in leading markets in 2019

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Release date




Survey time period

2017 to 2019

Supplementary notes

The values have been rounded off.

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