Scrap metal recycling involves recovering and processing metal from end of life products so that it can be used again as raw material in the manufacturing of new products. Metal can be recycled repeatedly without changing its properties – this means it has a much lower carbon footprint than new material. The most common recyclable metals are Steel and Aluminium.
There are Two Types of Metals
Ferrous – contains iron and is magnetic. These metals are primarily used for their tensile strength and durability.
Examples include steel, cast iron and raw iron. Products that are made from these metals include piping, railroads and most hand tools.
Ferrous metals make up the most recycled materials in the world.
Non-Ferrous – doesn’t contain iron and is not magnetic. These metals are more malleable than ferrous metals and are much lighter. Because they do not contain iron, they are not susceptible to rust so are great for things like roofing, gutters and road signs.
Examples include aluminium, copper, lead, nickel, tin and zinc.
Aluminium is the third most recycled material in the world (after ferrous metals and concrete).
Many scrap metal dealers are listed on Google they will pay for most clean metals depending on the international markets, and pay less if they collect rather than you deliver.
- The first step is collecting the metal. This is through both council recycling and scrap yards.
- The metal is then sorted which involves separating what can be recycled from what cannot. This is important to ensure a high-quality metal at the end as that is worth more when sold.
- The metal is then processed which means it is compacted and squeezed. This means that it doesn’t take up as much room on the conveyor belt
- Shredding then breaks up the metal into tiny pieces. Smaller pieces have a larger surface area, meaning that they will melt at a lower temperature than larger pieces.
- The metal is melted in a large furnace. Each type of metal has a specifically designed furnace based on its properties. The melting process uses a lot of energy but it is still considerably less than the energy required to make metal from raw materials. Melting can take minutes or hours depending on the metal, how big the furnace is and the volume of metal.
- Purification then ensures the final product is free of impurities. Electrolysis is often used to purify metals.
- The molten metal is passed through cooling chambers to cool and solidify it. Sometimes other chemicals are added to the molten metal to change its properties. At the cooling stage the metal can be made into different shapes and sizes.
- The solid recycled metal is then packed and transported to factories for it to be used in making new products.
Benefits of Metal Recycling
- Metal recycling diverts waste from landfills
- Recycling metal preserves natural resources. Metals are excavated from the earth through mining.
- Recycling has a reduced energy consumption compared with producing virgin metal.
- Metal does not degrade during recycling, so it can be used over and over again.
- Recycling metals can save governments money that would have been spent on mining and processing metals. This money can then be used for other purposes like improving living standards. Exporting recycled materials can generate revenue and provide jobs.