Things About Metal Recycling That Are Worth Knowing


Iron and steel are the most recycled materials in the world. The good thing about metals is they can be recycled as many times as possible without changing their inherent properties. Other recyclable metals are gold, brass, silver, copper, and aluminum. Today, you can find many recycling plants across the United States. If you’re living around Kansas City, visit, where you can get help and support for your metal recycling endeavor.

A peek into the early years of recycling


It was only recently that the media and the public are more aware of metal recycling but the practice was done many centuries ago. Here’s a brief timeline of the history of recycling. The first case of metal recycling happened in 1776. in New York City.

It was the time when the Americans were fighting for their independence from the British and recycling was started to help the country in its war effort. The statue of King George III in New York City was torn down and melted, which yielded 42,088 bullets.

A material recovery center was established by residents of New York City in 1897. after the release of a recycling decree. The facility recycled metals, fabrics, paper, and other items that could be recovered and reused. But it was in Chicago where the first American aluminum can recycling plants opened in 1904.

On the other hand, it was Dell that took the initiative to have a free recycling program for its products in 2006. This showed consumers the manufacturer’s role in producing sustainable products. Apple, Sony, and other computer manufacturers soon followed the initiative.

Why should we recycle metals?


Metals are highly valuable materials that many industries use. Thus the recycling industry is enjoying increasing demand for recycled scrap metals. The good thing about metals is that they can be recycled over and over without losing their inherent properties. People are motivated to collect metal scraps because they can sell them to recycling plants.

The recycling process is labor-intensive and requires many steps, thus it creates jobs for several people. Recycling scrap metals preserve the remaining natural resources. It reduces the need to mine iron ore and other raw base metals. The metal recycling process uses less energy, costs less, and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

Thus, it is more efficient for the industry and the rest of the industrial sector to use recycled metals. It is also an outstanding economic contributor, as recycled metal is one of the top U.S. exports.

What metals can be recycled?


Each year million tons of metal are recycled from ferrous and non-ferrous metal scraps. Most metals are recyclable, with a few exceptions. Iron and steel are valuable because they are used in buildings, tools, infrastructure, cars, ships, airplanes, appliances, and machines.

Aside from iron and steel, you can recycle the following:

  • Copper. You can find copper from handheld electronics, various electrical appliances, interior parts of DVD players and laptops, and the base of computer monitors and TV screens.
  • Brass. It is often found in doorknobs and other household fixtures.
  • Zinc. Most of the zinc you can find are from the galvanized parts of vehicles.
  • Tin. Cooking bowls, woks, and metal soup ladles are typically made of tin.
  • Aluminum. Many soda cans and packaged food containers are made from aluminum.

Metals you should not recycle

Although it is often said that almost all metals are recyclable, there are some exceptions, and here they are. You cannot recycle the following:

  • Radioactive metals such as plutonium and uranium
  • Mercury
  • Lead (TV and computer screens, lead-acid batteries)
  • Contaminated cans, like paint cans, motor oil cans
  • Household items, like gas tanks, CDs, coated pots and pans

Overview of the process of recycling metals

There are several stages in the recycling of scrap metals. As such, it is labor-intensive and needs many workers to supervise and monitor each stage.

1. Collection


More people today are aware that scrap metals have a higher monetary value. Thus, instead of sending them to landfills, many people, groups, and organizations collect scrap metals and sell them to scrap yards. Scrap vehicles are the largest source of ferrous metal in the United States. Consumer scrap, farm equipment, ships, railroad tracks, and large steel structures are the other sources of ferrous metals.

2. Sorting


Most scrap and recycling yards put a higher value on materials brought by scrappers that are clean and segregated. If the firm has an automated recycling system, they use huge sensors and magnets to separate the ferrous from non-ferrous materials.

Entrepreneurs engaged in scrapping also uses magnets to separate the different metal types, and identify some of the scrap metals by their color. Copper has a distinct color, while yellow indicates brass, although there is red brass as well. Aluminum is silver or almost white.

3. Processing


Metals are shredded to prepare them for the succeeding stages. Scrap yards and recycling plants appreciate scrappers who cut their scrap metals into smaller pieces. This makes it easier for the shredding machines to accommodate them. The shredded metals have a larger surface to volume ratio, allowing the melting process to use less energy. Steel is turned into steel blocks while aluminum is cut into small sheets.

4. Melting


Each type of metal has a specific furnace configured to melt the particular type of metal. The volume of metal and the degree of heat from the different furnace determines the length of time the metal melts. The range can be from several minutes to several hours.

5. Purification


The recycling plant purifies the melted metal to ensure the high quality of the final product. One method that recycling plants commonly use is electrolysis.

6. Solidifying


Once the molten metals are purified, they are allowed to cool and solidify on conveyor belts. They will later be formed into different shapes as required. These are the things you should know about metal recycling. It offers business opportunities as well. You can become a scrap metal vendor or start a scrap metal collection business. If you are interested in scrap metal collection, it is essential to know the recycling laws imposed by your state.