As climate change and global warming become increasingly threatening, the need for recycling is a critical factor. Current and future generations are directly impacted by our environment’s health.
Among various recyclable materials, scrap metals have proven to be environmental champions. They not only reduce waste but provide economic advantages when recycled, making them sustainable in more than one sense.
Let’s take a quick look at some commonly recycled scrap metals alongside a few things you might not have known about them.
The Actual Benefits of Recycling Metal
Scrap metal recycling significantly reduces the need for mining new ore, conserving natural resources and preventing ecosystem disruption. Metal recycling as a process requires less energy compared to extracting metals, which means reducing carbon emissions overall.
The economic influence isn’t negligible either. It creates jobs in the recycling industry while also allowing cost-effective production with recycled metals.
With these and other positive effects in the picture, metal recycling can be a powerful move towards sustainability the world over.
6 Common Scrap Metals for Recycling
Scrap metal recycling is a lesser-known yet impactful way to create sustainability. Here’s a quick overview of the six most commonly recycled scrap metals you might need to learn more about.
1. Ferrous Metals (Iron):
Predominantly used in our everyday applications, iron is a key component of ferrous metals—among which we can also find stainless steel and carbon steel. An interesting distinction in the iron recycling process centers around heavy versus light iron recycling, with heavy iron often found in machinery, while lighter types reside in items like cans and thin sheeting.
The magnetic properties of these metals simplify their separation from other waste, making recycling processes more efficient.
In a nutshell, some types of ferrous (iron-containing) metals include:
- Light iron: Found in household appliances and vehicles.
- Heavy iron: Mostly seen in industrial machinery and construction.
- Stainless steel: Used extensively in kitchenware, hospitals, and cars.
- Carbon steel: Common in the construction sector due to its hardness.
- Cast Iron: Utilized for plumbing pipes and cooking materials, among other things.
Copper scrap is highly sought after by recyclers, primarily for its valuable properties like high electrical conductivity. It’s often encountered in plumbing pipes, roofing materials, and old electronic devices. A noteworthy fact: recycling copper saves up to 85% of the energy needed for primary production.
Steel is the most recycled material on earth—thanks primarily due to its omnipresence in our daily lives. We find this unique ferrous metal in everything from cars to cans, packaging, and even futuristic constructions like 3-D printed bridges.
When recycled, steel retains its inherent properties. This makes it ideally suited for multiple reuse cycles, providing a profound contribution towards sustainability.
Aluminum stands as a popular choice in recycling owing to its resilience and high demand in industries. It’s found abundantly in beverage cans, car parts, and general household items. As a material, aluminum boasts lightweight and corrosion resistance- bestowing it with longevity.
The recycling process for aluminum is energy efficient compared to producing new aluminum. Intriguingly, recycled aluminum can fill the same roles as newly produced ones.
In the world of scrap metal recycling, brass holds substantial popularity. It’s an alloy primarily composed of copper and zinc, providing it with unique anti-corrosion properties. You’ll find it in plumbing fittings, musical instruments, door knobs, and stylish decor items.
Recycled brass holds tremendous value due to its aesthetic appeal and utility in manufacturing new items.
Last —and certainly not least— lead is also quite popular in the scrap recycling industry. This heavy metal has significant use in multiple industries due to its malleability, corrosion resistance, and excellent sound absorption capacity.
However, due to its toxicity levels, proper disposal or recycling is important for environmental safety. Recycled lead can be beneficially used for battery production. It’s also employed in the manufacturing of ammunition, weights, and shielding for radiation protection.
As we’ve seen, recycling scrap metals carries immense environmental and economic benefits. It’s a great step towards sustainability and resource management. We can only continue to support this initiative for a greener tomorrow.