Scrap Drives

From Ohio History Central

World War II Scrap Drive.jpg
Residents of Chester Hill, Ohio collecting scrap metal to support military production during World War II, ca.


During World War II, the United States government encouraged the American people to participate in scrap drives. Citizens were asked to turn over to the government items that would prove to be useful in the war effort. These items included products made out of rubber and most types of metal, kitchen fat, newspapers, and rags, among other items. The government then had various industries recycle these products into weapons and other items necessary for the war effort, ensuring that United States soldiers had the items necessary to defeat the country's enemies.

Most Americans, including many Ohioans, actively participated in scrap drives to help the United States attain victory in World War II. They viewed it as their patriotic duty to contribute their time and their products. Historians, however, debate how necessary scrap drives were and whether or not they helped the United States defeat Germany, Italy, and Japan. The government did find uses for many of the donated items. Products made from rubber helped the war effort, but recycled rubber proved to be of an inferior quality to naturally occurring rubber. The development of synthetic rubber did more to help the United States win World War II than the scrap drives. Recycled aluminum also proved ineffective, although industry melted down iron and steel products to make various weapons. Perhaps the greatest item collected in scrap drives was kitchen fat, an item necessary to produce glycerin. Glycerin was a vital component of bombs and other types of explosives. While the scrap drives' effectiveness remains under debate, the drives helped unite the American people behind the war effort and allowed the United States to defeat Germany, Italy, and Japan in World War II.

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