Scrap metal can be a major part of the waste stream in most organizations. From cast iron to copper wires, aluminum cans, electrical wires, auto parts, and other metal items, many different metal items are found being discarded regularly.
Metal recycling is one of the best ways to deal with scrap metal pieces. There is a thriving scrap metal recycling industry in the US and other parts of the world that relies on scrap dealers and scrap metal waste for raw materials to produce a variety of items.
Waste Control understands how scrap metal recycling can be a challenge, and we are here to help. In this blog, we will talk about how scrap metal recycling works and how you can optimize your waste stream to recycle all the scrap metal you can. Read on!
A bit about Scrap Metal Recycling
Scrap metal recycling is the process of recovering and reusing metals from waste products and manufacturing processes. This includes everything from old cars, auto parts such as radiators and wires, and appliances to construction debris and factory scraps. Essentially, anything made of metal can be recycled. Sounds simple enough, right? It can get a bit complicated when we go into the different types of metal scrap and when alloys are involved.
There are a variety of scrap metal waste types, each with its own unique recycling process. The most common types of scrap metal include:
- Ferrous metals: Ferrous metals contain iron and are attracted to magnets. The most common types of ferrous metal scrap are iron and steel. Ferrous metals are recycled by shredding and separating the metals using magnetic separators.
- Non-ferrous metals: Non-ferrous scrap metals do not contain iron and are not attracted to magnets. The most common types of non-ferrous metal scrap are aluminum, copper, brass, and stainless steel. Non-ferrous metals are recycled by shredding and separating the metals using methods such as precipitation and electrowinning.
- Precious metals: Precious metals are rare metallic chemical elements with high economic value. They include gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Precious metals are recovered from electronic waste, jewelry, and other sources. They are separated from other materials using a process called smelting.
What are the Benefits of Scrap Metal Recycling?
Scrap metal recycling is one way to reduce the amount of metal waste that ends up in landfills. By recycling your scrap metal, you can keep it out of the environment and put it to good use. Here are some key benefits of scrap metal recycling:
- It conserves natural resources: When you recycle scrap metal, you’re reusing materials that would otherwise be lost forever. This conserves the natural resources that were used to create the metal in the first place. Moreover, most of these metals can be recycled and used to produce new parts without losing any of their properties
- It saves energy: Recycling scrap metal requires less energy than mining and extracting new metal from scratch. This reduces pollution and helps conserve energy sources like coal and oil.
- It creates jobs: The scrap metal recycling industry employs thousands of people around the world. This provides much-needed jobs and boosts local economies.
- It’s good for the environment: Scrap metal recycling helps reduce pollution and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This protects our planet and its inhabitants from harmful chemicals and pollutants.
- It saves cost: Scrap metal is usually a very valuable waste commodity in the recycling market. Scrap dealers and industries will pay consistent prices for your scrap metal waste which can bring you steady revenue towards your operations.
What are Some of the Challenges of Scrap Metal Recycling?
There are many challenges associated with scrap metal recycling, but some of the most common include:
- Finding a market for recycled metals: While there is a growing demand for recycled metals, the market is still relatively small compared to the demand for virgin materials. This can make it difficult to find buyers for recycled metals, especially if the quantities are large.
- Ensuring purity of recycled metals: To be recycled, scrap metal needs to be sorted and purified. This process can be time-consuming and expensive, and may not be possible for all types of scrap metal.
- Dealing with hazardous materials: Some types of scrap metal, such as lead batteries or electronic waste, can contain hazardous materials that need to be dealt with carefully to avoid environmental contamination.
How does the Scrap Metal Recycling Process Happen?
There are a few different ways to go about recycling scrap metal. The most common method is through a metal recycling facility.
Auditing your Waste
Auditing your waste is key to reducing your company’s environmental impact. By understanding what types of waste you generate, you can develop a recycling plan that will minimize the amount of waste sent to landfill. An audit begins by looking at the various sources of waste, including scrap metal and understanding what the quantities you produce these in are and also the different types of metal scrap you have. This is important because you will have to identify suitable scrap recycling industries for all these different waste types. A waste management company like Waste Control can help you audit your waste and develop a customized recycling plan to suit your needs.
When it comes to recycling scrap metal, it’s important to sort your waste so that you can recycle as much as possible. Sorting your scrap metal waste is important because:
- You can recycle more of it: By separating different types of metals, you can ensure that they all get recycled instead of ending up in a landfill.
- It saves you money: Scrap metal is a valuable resource that can be sold for cash. Sorting it properly ensures that you get the most money for your recyclables.
The first step is to develop a system for collecting and storing it. This can be as simple as setting up bins or containers specifically for scrap metal or implementing a color-coding system to designate which materials are recyclable. Once you have a plan in place, make sure all employees are aware of it and know how to properly sort and store scrap metal.
Separating the ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal pieces from your waste stream is critical as they go through entirely different processes. This should ideally be done at the sorting stage so that you can be efficient and save time in the further steps.
Reduce and Reuse Scrap Metal
The next step is to find ways to Reduce, reuse or repurpose the scrap metal you collect. Utilizing as much of the metal that you procure in your process is beneficial economically for your business and also for the overall waste stream. You can also figure out innovative ways to deal with scrap metal such as for making furniture or for the beautification of your facility.
Finally, once you have reduced and reused as much scrap metal as possible, you can recycle what’s left.
Processing Scrap Metal Before you Ship
There are several ways in which you can deal with your scrap metal in its current form. One option is to sell it to a local recycling center or scrap yard. Another is to donate it to an organization that accepts scrap metal donations, such as a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
To make the overall process easier, if possible, it is important to bale your ferrous metals together after sorting and cleaning them. You can also choose to shred your metal scrap before baling to reduce the overall volume and eliminate any bulky pieces that can mess up the packaging.
The last step is to load up the scrap metal onto trucks and haul it off to the recycler. Waste Control works with a network of certified recyclers who follow all environmental regulations. These centers then use industry best practices to process the scrap.
How does the Recycler Process the Scrap Metal?
The first step in either type of scrap metal recycling process is to sort the metal by type and remove any impurities such as dirt, paint, or other non-metal materials. Once the metal is sorted, it is then placed into a furnace where it is heated to a high temperature until it becomes molten. At this point, impurities will rise to the surface and can be skimmed off before the molten metal is poured into molds to cool and solidify.
The result is a recycled product that can be used in a variety of applications, from manufacturing new aluminum cans to creating steel beams for construction projects.
Scrap metal recycling is one of the must-haves in your waste stream management strategy. Scrap metal is consistent and has a valuable market. Scrap metal yards deal with millions of tons of metal parts every year. Simply sending scrap metal off to landfills is both bad for the environment and your bottom line.
Working with a waste management organization is a great way to ensure that you get the best out of your overall waste stream management. Scrap metal recycling needs a focused approach as well as other types of waste, such as plastic and chemical waste. Dealing with all of this yourself can be overwhelming and challenging if you are not prepared or well-connected in the industry.
At Waste Control, we are experts in total waste stream management and scrap metal recycling. We will help optimize your waste stream to ensure that you are getting the most value for your scrap metal and other waste products. We offer competitive pricing and top-notch customer service. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you recycle your scrap metal.