Recycling — the reuse or repurposing of materials — has been a part of the human experience for centuries. Today, millions of Americans sort materials by type from their scrap to recycle. Businesses also engage in recycling. Scrap metal recycling in particular is crucial because it helps increase the natural lifecycle of products and prevents filling up landfills with usable materials.
Read on to learn why it is important to recycle scrap metals and how to recycle metals from your worksite and the benefits of recycling scrap metal.
Types of Scrap Metal You Can Recycle
You can recycle almost all metals — in fact, steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world. Metal recycling has a significant impact on the environment and the world economy. In basic terms, scrap metal recycling deals with two types of metals — ferrous and non-ferrous.
Ferrous metals contain iron, making them slightly magnetic. Examples of ferrous metals include:
- Alloy steel
- Carbon steel
- Wrought iron
- Cast iron
Ferrous metals are technically less valuable than non-ferrous metals. You may want to separate them and recycle scrap metal with iron separately.
Non-ferrous metals do not contain iron. They include:
- Stainless steel
If you are using non-ferrous metals on your job site, keep them separate from ferrous metals when you are recycling them, as they’re more valuable.
How Scrap Metal Is Recycled
While smaller jobs and individual home renovators may be able to collect and recycle their own metals, larger construction job sites generally benefit from having a recycling service come in to sort and collect scrap metal. The entire process involves six steps:
- Collection: When you hire an industrial recycling service, they will take care of collecting metal from your job site so you can focus on other aspects of finishing the job. They will likely take both ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal and parts.
- Sorting: After collecting the metal, parts will be sorted into their individual components. The magnetic nature of ferrous metals can simplify the sorting process — many facilities use large, powerful magnets to attract ferrous metals and sort them from their non-ferrous counterparts. After that, sorters may further separate materials like copper and brass, as they are more valuable non-ferrous metals.
- Processing: Once sorting is complete, scrap metals undergo further processing to shred them down and make melting easier. The larger surface-to-volume ratio of these shredded metal parts will decrease melting time and the amount of energy necessary to break down the metal.
- Melting: During melting, metals are divided by type into furnaces that operate at extremely high temperatures to melt the metals. While this process expends a considerable amount of energy, it is much more efficient than creating products from raw materials.
- Purification: To ensure no contaminants make it into the final product, processors will purify the metals, often using a method called electrolysis.
- Solidifying: After purification, the final step in the process is to cool the metal to return it to solid form. Most scrap metal is cooled into bars, making transportation and conversion to other metal products much easier.
5 Reasons to Recycle Scrap Metal
There are many reasons why recycling scrap metal benefits you and your business. Check out five reasons why it is important to recycle metals:
1. Preserving Natural Resources
One of the most well-known benefits of recycling is the preservation of natural resources. To create products like automobiles and metal beams for construction, the process begins with the mining of natural resources, called ore. Ore is a finite resource, and recycling can help preserve these natural resources so future generations can benefit from them.
Scrap metal recycling can have an impressive impact on the environment. The recycling of steel provides enough energy to power 18 million homes per year, reducing the need for damaging energy production that can harm the environment.
2. Saving Energy
The metal manufacturing process requires significant energy expenditure. Crude steel production has an energy intensity level of around 20 gigajoules per ton. Because different metals require different manufacturing processes, the energy impact of recycling scrap metals varies by material. Manufacturing with recycled aluminum cans, for example, expends 95% less energy than the same process with raw aluminum.
3. Conserving Raw Materials
In line with the preservation of natural resources, scrap metal recycling also conserves raw materials. Some research indicates that natural reserves of some metals could be exhausted in as quickly as 50 years. When these resources run out, they will be gone forever, which means conserving them for future generations is of the utmost importance.
4. Decreasing Costs
When industries use recycled metals, the cost savings are abundant. Using recycled materials like scrap metal that has been converted back into raw resources can significantly reduce costs of manufacturing. Lower costs can open up the door for higher profit margins. Companies can even earn money from recycled scrap metal — copper and brass are two of the most valuable scrap metals.
5. Stimulating the Economy
Recycling scrap metal creates new jobs and can help stimulate the economy. The Recycling Economic Information Report indicates that recycling and reuse activities in 2020 accounted for $37.8 billion in wages and $5.5. billion in tax revenue. As more industries move toward creating sustainable solutions, recycling will make an even more prominent position in the economy.
Choose GSD Companies’ Metal Recycling Services
Because recycling scrap metal is an involved process, you want to rely on trusted professionals who know what they’re doing. GSD Companies is a national industrial demolition and dismantling contractor that provides industrial recycling services. We are an industry leader in industrial recycling, and we take charge of the entire process — including both collecting and recycling your scrap metal.
Part of our company philosophy is a strict focus on maintaining a high safety track record. With an intense attention to detail and thorough training for all of our associates, we ensure safety is our focus on every site.
Are you in need of industrial recycling services for scrap metal on your job site? For professional service from an industry leader, contact GSD Companies to get started with your industrial recycling project.