Metals, unlike many other materials can be recycled repeatedly without losing their properties. Steel is one of the most recyclable materials in the world.
Recycling scrap metal is a great way to meet both financial and environmental goals. Learn about the various types of scrap metals, the recycling process and the benefits that come with giving metals a new life.
What is scrap metal recycling?
Scrap metal recycling is the process of recovering and processing recyclable metals from products and structures that have reached the end of their life cycle so they can be used as raw materials for the manufacture of new goods.
Types of recyclable metals
There are two categories of scrap metal: ferrous and not-ferrous. Here is the difference between them:
The word “ferrous”, which is derived directly from the Latin for iron, can refer to both steel and iron. The second most common metal on our planet is iron. The Earth’s magnetic field is created by its natural magnetism. Metal scrap yards use large electromagnets mounted to excavators in order to unload and load ferrous scraps from trucks, and then move them around the yard.
Ferrous metals are also used to make the following items:
Materials used in construction and building such as I-beams, ductwork and electrical wiring
Transport parts and products, such as automobiles, railroad scrap, rotors and drums, and engine blocks
Containers and packaging
Scrap metal is a by-product of the steel industry. Scrap metal, including bushelings, clippings and skeletons, is easily and economically recycled back into the stream from which it originated, as it has not been altered.
Non-ferrous metals can be recycled indefinitely because they don’t lose any of their chemical properties. Non-ferrous metals are plentiful, but the most common include aluminum, nickel, copper, lead, zinc, tin and tin. Non-ferrous metals include precious metals such as gold and silver. These metals have a variety of applications.
Even though non-ferrous metal scrap only makes up 10% of all material recycled in the Sydney it accounts for half of the value of scrap recycling’s total earnings. In 2018, the Sydney alone exported non-ferrous metal scrap worth $10.4 billion to 95 different countries.
Recycling operations buy non-ferrous scrap per pound, so it is usually more valuable for recyclers. Prices for non-ferrous metals tend to fluctuate more often than those for ferrous.
Metals that are not recyclable
The list of metals that cannot be recycled is extremely short. This includes toxic metals such as mercury and radioactive metals, like plutonium and uranium. Some metals and metal products are not accepted by scrap yards, usually for liability reasons. Some items may be charged extra to accept because they require more processing. If you are unsure, it’s best to ask the yard first.
The Scrap Metal Recyclage Process
It is fascinating to see how you can turn your old cooking pans, soda cans or cars into a variety of new products. The seven stages are:
1. Know the basics
You can do a few things before you take your metals to a scrap yard.
Contact a scrap yard in your area to learn more about the pricing of scrap metal and if there is a minimum quantity you need to bring. Separate the metal as much as possible from other materials such as paper or plastic. A product must have at least 50% metal. Set aside any items that meet this standard. You can use a magnetic device to determine which items are ferrous, and which are not. It’s not strictly necessary, but it can speed up the process of unloading and weighing at the yard.
Be sure to have your ID with you before you leave. Most recyclers ask for identification to help curb theft of scrap metal.
The materials are weighed at a weigh-in facility before they can be taken to a scrap yard near you. In some places, you can stay in your vehicle while the scale operator weighs and unloads your scrap metal. You’ll then receive a weight ticket that you can use to pay for your material.
Metal is also collected by curbside recycling services, large generators and scrap dealers. Public recycling and curbside services usually only accept common household metals like cans and do not take all recyclable metals. Scrap recyclers are the answer.
Scrap yards sort and separate metal using a variety of methods, including magnets, spectrometers and electrical currents. Metals must meet quality standards to avoid contamination with other materials and metals. Scrappers will get more money if they disassemble items that have mixed materials, such as a metal bicycle with rubber tires or handles.
4. Prepare into forms
Metals must be cut to precise sizes and shapes to make melting more efficient. Scrap metals are made on order. The scrap yard knows exactly what metals and shapes their customers need. Scrap metal can be processed in a variety of ways, depending on the final application.
After the metal has been sized and processed it is sent to the next client in the chain, the mills and foundries that use scrap metal to produce new metal.
5. Melting and Refining
The melting process will differ depending on the metal and the purity required. The impurities are raised to the surface of the metal when it is melted. Electrolysis is one of the processes that refines metals to produce something as close to new metal as possible.
Metal ore is another alternative for the production of metal. It is called virgin metal. Scrap metal can be purified to retain all of its properties, and used in conjunction with virgin metal. Scrap metal is more energy efficient and cheaper than virgin metal.
After being cleaned of contaminants, the molten metal transforms as it solidifies. Plants are specialists in the types of metals they produce. Bars, coils, sheets, and wires are examples. Metals can be treated with chemicals to change their properties or make them denser.
The metal can be reused after the solidification stage.
The foundry or the mill are not usually the final users of the metal. The metal is then used in other industries, such as automakers, robotics and aerospace, or public works projects. Repair and reuse can maximize the lifecycle of these products until it is time to recycle again.
Benefits of Metal Recycling
There are many reasons to recycle scrap steel. The benefits of recycling scrap metal are numerous for individuals, manufacturers and our planet. Here are some of the biggest benefits of recycling scrap metal:
1. It puts cash in your pocket
Recycling scrap metal is a great way to earn money. Scrap yards pay you for the scrap you bring.
Pricing can fluctuate based on the market and other factors. Additional fees may also apply. You can also use apps or websites from third parties to learn more about industry trends. However, these are averages, and they cannot be guaranteed. You can contact a scrap yard in your area to find out what the current scrap copper prices in Sydney.
2. It keeps hazardous waste out of landfills
Many metals take hundreds or even thousands of years to decompose into small enough elements to be returned to the Earth in a landfill. They are merely taking up space. Lead and mercury, for example, are toxic metals that will eventually leach into soil and water. They should be disposed off safely. By bringing such items to a scrapyard, you can reduce waste for all of these reasons.
3. It saves energy
Recycling scrap metal uses far less energy than manufacturing new products using virgin raw materials. According to Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (deep), recycling one aluminum can will save enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for nearly four hours.
Energy savings are a great way to save money for consumers while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win situation.
4. It saves businesses money
Recycling scrap metal can save you money, and it can also help manufacturers to reduce production costs.
5. It creates jobs
A report by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries states that the Sydney Scrap Recycling Industry is a powerful engine of the economy, providing 531,510 employment opportunities and generating nearly $13 billion per year in tax revenue.