Billion Dollars

in 2020 revenue


Recycled Material

75%+ of the material processed by Harsco in 2020 was recycled or reused


Million Pounds

of bulk-making waste was diverted from traditional disposal to organic compost in 2020

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The Path to Drawdown: Industrial Recycling

Project Drawdown defines recycling as the recovery of recyclable post-consumer waste (like metals, plastic, glass, etc.) from the industrial and residential sectors of the economy. Recycling is the alternative to dumping recyclable materials in landfills and reduces the need to use new material for production.

Waste from manufacturing, construction, restaurants, office buildings, schools and mines comprises about half of all waste. All that is grouped together as “industrial and commercial waste.” Much of it, though not all, can be recycled, and a variety of approaches can enhance recycling rates.

Some of these approaches include creating marketplaces for secondary materials to facilitate the exchange of recyclable and reusable goods, to innovate conversion technologies to make more materials recyclable, and adopting circular business models to recapture “waste” as a valuable resource.

Recycling industrial and commercial material can reduce GHG emissions because producing new products from recovered materials often saves energy. As one example, forging recycled aluminum products uses 95% less energy than creating them from virgin materials.

Project Drawdown estimates that, by 2050, a serious commitment to recycling can help avoid 6.02 gigatons of GHG emissions. To get there, recycling practices need to be adopted much more widely that they are now:

  • <::marker> In 2014, 27% of recyclable waste was recycled
  • <::marker> By 2050, 68% of recyclable materials should be recycled
  • <::marker> That’s 2.6% CAGR between 2014 and 2050

If we can achieve this 68% recycling scenario, we can avoid up to 6.02 gigatons of GHG emissions.

What We Want to See Improve

Set More Aggressive Targets

We applaud Harsco’s target of reducing their energy and carbon intensity by 15% by 2025 (p. 39). But ultimately, we think this target is too modest. First, we want to see commitments to reduce absolute emissions rather than emissions intensity. Next, we urge Harsco to think bigger by aiming for deeper cuts, rather than just 15%. Last and very importantly, we want them to set their sights on 2050, when Harsco’s absolute emissions should reach as close to zero as possible.

Electrify the Fleet

We applaud the efforts that Harsco is making to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. For example, GPS tracking has helped them improve the efficiency of vehicle movements and reduce over 230,000 gallons of diesel fuel (p. 21) consumed by their fleet in 2020. But with a fleet of over 700 vehicles (p. 4) with 0% use of renewable sources of energy (p. 39), saving on diesel fuel is only a small dent in their overall emissions. We urge Harsco to formulate a strategy to transition to zero-emission vehicles within this decade.

Switch to Clean Banks

Harsco and their subsidiaries have obtained loans from a number of large multinational banks (p. 114) in the last decade. Unfortunately, many of these banks are the world’s largest funders of fossil fuel companies and enable these high-emitting industries to survive. We urge Harsco to stop patronizing these financial institutions, and instead seek loans from banks without ties to oil, gas or coal companies.

Related Metal Recycling Stocks in the Climate Index

View All Climate Index Stocks →

Allocated Company Description


LKQ Corp (LKQ)

LKQ recycles thousands of used vehicles into salable parts, tires, fluids and oil - a circular economy model that reduces virgin material use and emissions


IAA, Inc. (IAA)

IAA provides a digital marketplace where total-loss, damaged and low-value cars are bought and sold. It’s a valuable industrial recycling service


Commercial Metals (CMC)

CMC buys scrap steel and other metals and recycles them into metal products for construction. This reduces virgin material use, energy use and emissions


PureCycle Technologies, Inc. (PCT)

PureCycle sells technology that turns polypropylene into virgin-like plastic material. Industrial recycling conserves resources and cuts emissions


Harsco Corporation (HSC)

Harsco recycles industrial materials from the metal, railways and energy sectors, which expands the circular economy and reduces virgin materials use


Loop Industries (LOOP)

Loop recycles low-value plastics to create high-quality plastics - a circular economy business that reduces virgin material use and emissions


Aqua Metals (AQMS)

Aqua Metals turns used lead acid batteries into pure lead and plastic chips. Now that’s a circular economy model

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