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  • Writer's pictureAustin Hetzer

How Scrap Impacted World War II

The role played by recycled scrap metal in helping the Allied forces to prevail during World War 2 has been largely forgotten in the intervening years. However, as modern scrap metal recyclers continue to ensure that materials are used to their fullest potential, it's worth reflecting on the role that scrap recycling played during the war effort. In the years leading up to World War 2, scrap metal recycling was already a thriving industry. As the war worsened, the demand for metal to be recycled or reused in weapons, ships, and other war materiel drastically increased. It was estimated that the US alone had nearly 1.5 million tons of excess metal that needed to be diverted to the war effort. In response to this great need for recyclable materials, the US scrap metal recycling industry worked tirelessly to collect iron, steel, and other metals from across the country to be processed for use by the US military. This work was not considered glamorous, but it was essential to keeping production high and efficient. But it wasn't only the domestic industry that served to meet this need. Large quantities of metal from occupied countries were also seized by the Allies, further advancing the war effort. To meet the need for additional scrap metal supplies, the Allies implemented methods like metal drives, which encouraged civilians to donate scrap metal to the military. These metal drives not only increased the available resources, but they also served to raise morale among the civilian populace and create a sense of national unity and patriotism. The importance of scrap metal recycling to the war effort was not overlooked. In many cases, it was recognized as an essential part of the war effort, with the US government instituting policies and legislation to ensure that the scrap metal industry could continue to run smoothly. The 1940 National Defense Advisory Commission created the National Metal Salvage Exchange to collect and distribute scrap metal, and other US and British agencies followed this model throughout the war. Recycled scrap metal was and continues to be an essential part of industry and military operations. Its role in World War 2 was critical, and as recycling continues to play a vital role in our society, it's important to remember and commemorate the efforts of all those who contributed to the scrap metal recycling effort during the war. The role of scrap metal recycling in World War 2 was not just important, but absolutely critical to the war effort. By collecting and processing scrap metal, the US and other Allied nations were able to mobilize the necessary resources to ensure their success. As modern scrap metal recyclers, it is our responsibility to honor these efforts by continuing to recycle and reuse materials to their utmost potential.

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