Have you ever imagined what recycling scrap metal can do? Recycling looks like a simple activity you can do when you have some spare time. But behind its simplicity, scrap metal recycling can lower consumer prices, improve the trade balance, create jobs, minimize waste dumping on landfills, reduce energy consumption, and conserve natural resources.
For more than 200 years, scrap metal recycling has supported the U.S. economy. Since the 1800s, native-born Americans and new immigrants collected and sold scrap metals to sustain their livelihood. From then on, enormous volumes of scrap metal were recycled, bringing numerous benefits to individuals and industries.
Today, several types of metal are brought to recycling plants as new developments and technological advancements have improved the recycling process. Scrap iron, steel, aluminum, tin, copper, and bronze are just some types of metals accepted by many recycling yards. If you have collected a large volume of metal scraps or are starting a scrap metal business, you can partner with langleyrecyclingkc.com.
The many benefits of metal recycling
Metal recycling accorded various benefits in different ways. Here are the top ones.
- Economic benefits. A range of industries and many individuals benefit significantly from metal recycling. For example, industries using metal for manufacturing typically have scraps. Therefore, they can sell their industrial scrap to recycling plants to minimize waste and gain from them at the same time. Individuals can earn from collecting and selling metal scrap. However, individuals benefit more from the recycling industry by creating more jobs and boosting the economy. Recycling metals is very labor-intensive, so the sector employs more people. At the same time, the sector contributes generously to local and state taxes. For various manufacturers, using recycled metals is cheaper and helps bring down the cost of manufacturing. The manufacturers’ savings on raw materials are passed on to consumers through much cheaper goods than other brands. Consumers typically benefit from the lower prices of grocery packaging, home furnishings, appliances, and cars.
- Maintaining trade balance worldwide. The scrap metal recycling industry is very competitive, and the U.S. exports a considerable volume of scrap metal under the scrap commodities category. Therefore, exporting scrap metals contribute to keeping the trade balances of the country. Recycled scrap metal exports from the U.S. reached 160 countries.
- Conservation of natural resources. Aside from the economic benefits, scrap metal recycling benefits the environment, too. As most metals can be recycled, mining for new ores is minimized, preventing further depletion of non-renewable natural resources. It also contains land and natural habitats from disruption. In addition, the recycling plants can immediately supply raw materials required for manufacturing, transportation, and construction.
- Lowers energy consumption. Producing metal from mined ore consumes a tremendous amount of energy. There are fewer steps when recycling metal; thus, the energy consumption is lower. The shorter process reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which benefits the environment and humans.
- Environment-friendly. Recycling various metals, such as copper, aluminum, iron, and steel, reduces waste. Thus, less waste can go into landfills. If the amount of metal scraps reaching landfills is lower, the less harmful chemicals will leach into the land and water systems. As a result, the production of wastewater and air pollution is reduced as well.
Things to know about metal recycling
Metals are recycled and reused without too many problems. It is possible to recycle metals continuously. Many metals do not change their inherent properties even if they are recycled numerous times. Among them, the most commonly recycled metal is steel, which also enjoys a vast demand overseas. Other metals that are candidates for recycling include copper, aluminum, brass, silver, and gold.
Recycling is an accepted activity that helps humans, industries, and the environment. Likewise, it can help small businesses as well as individuals. For example, individuals can collect scrap metal and exchange them for cash. The rates vary according to the metal they bring to recycling plants. Organizations can also benefit from the scheme by collecting their scrap metal and working with a recycling plant to pick up their scrap.
The process of recycling metal
It is helpful to know the requirements and process of metal recycling if you are engaged in the activity, whether you are recycling as a hobby or have already turned it into a business.
There are stages to follow before recycling metals. Moreover, the recycling yards must adhere to the required regulations to ensure that the process is environment-friendly. There are also risks involved, especially the high temperatures the process demands.
Before scrap metals are recycled, there are a few steps to go through.
- Segregation. The metal scraps individuals and businesses bring to the recycling facility need to be segregated. They are separated by type, size, density, and weight. The sorters of the recycling plant likewise sift through the metal items to remove other products such as plastics and paper labels.
- Preparation. Metals for recycling should be clean to remove any residue, such as food scraps in tin cans and remnants of liquids from sodas and juices in cans. Afterward, most metals are shredded to minimize the energy and time it will take to recycle them. Finally, aluminum cans are pressed into thin sheets. The conversion of metals into smaller chunks is to make the process friendlier to the environment. In addition, recycling compacted metal produces lesser emissions while in the burning process.
- Burning. The processed metal scraps are brought to a furnace at the right temperature to melt the specific type of metal. The time it takes to melt the metal depends on the type of metal being processed, as some metals have low melting points while others, such as iron, have a higher melting point.
- Formation. The melted metals from the furnace are called ingots. These ingots are later purified and molded according to the requirements of the manufacturers that use them. They can be formed into liquid, bars, or powder.
Recycled scrap metals do not lose their properties. Thus, they can be made in the same type of products they used to be. However, since they are already prepared for the next step of the manufacturing process, the steps required to turn them into new products are significantly reduced. Moreover, manufacturers do not need to prepare the raw materials from scratch, which happens when they process mined ore to produce virgin materials.