Nearly every industrial process, from manufacturing consumer goods to generating energy, produces different types of by-products, many of which are usable materials. Similar to municipal solid wastes, such as cardboard, newspapers, and beverage containers, these industrial materials are also valuable commodities that can be recycled.
Beneficial use of industrial materials is a key part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) effort. Through an SMM approach, EPA is helping change the way our society protects the environment and conserves resources for future generations. Building on the familiar concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, SMM is a systems approach that seeks to reduce materials use and their associated environmental impacts over their entire life cycle, starting with extraction of natural resources and product design and ending with decisions on recycling or final disposal. This approach helps to identify waste materials, such as industrial materials as commodities that can be utilized to grow key industries and associated jobs. As a commodity product, these materials will help the U.S. from draining virgin resources, including fossils fuels, minerals and precious metals.