Metal is a widely recyclable material, with many types being repurposed for further use. As global concern for the environment grows, so does the demand for increased recycling, especially of materials that would otherwise end up in landfill.
At Premier Waste Services, we aim to divert as much waste from landfill as possible, working according to the waste hierarchy to find the best alternative solutions for waste, including initial reduction in the amount of waste, reusing materials, and recycling.
We started out as scrap metal traders, and metal has remained one of our core specialities. Since the beginning we have valued waste metal and its value, especially concerning recycling. This blog will explain the metal recycling process, as well as why it is important to recycle metal.
What is Metal Recycling?
Metal recycling is simply the process of taking waste metal, processing it and creating new metal material. This recycled metal can be used to make metal products which can then be recycled once used or not needed.
There are many advantages to recycling metal, including environmental benefits as well as energy savings.
Which Metals Can be Recycled?
The two main types of metal are ferrous (containing notable amounts of iron) and non-ferrous, both of which can be recycled. Ferrous metals, steel and iron, are commonly recycled. Non-ferrous metals include aluminium, brass, titanium and copper, amongst others.
Recycled metals come from a variety of sources such as end-of-life vehicles, demolition waste, catalytic converters and more. At our Waste Transfer Station, we accept scrap metal from a range of customers from small scale local businesses to nationwide companies.
How is Metal Recycled?
The process of recycling metal is relatively simple, facilitated by scrap metal companies, who aid collection, sorting and transport.
Waste metal is either tipped at a recycling centre or collected from customers and brought to a Waste Transfer Station to be sorted and separated from other waste. In order to separate different metal types, various methods and machinery are used, for example magnets attract ferrous metals due to magnetic properties.
Once separated, the metal is transported to a specialised recycling centre where it will be processed. The waste metal is manufactured into new metal material, often through melting it down.
Advantages of Recycling Metal
As aforementioned, it is more important than ever to recycle waste materials where possible. Aside from general benefits of recycling, such as reduced landfill, there are metal-specific advantages.
Divert Waste from Landfill
Metal does not biodegrade quickly, if at all, so it important to ensure metal does not end up in landfill. Landfill capacity is limited and encouraged not to grow as the amounting waste can have devastating effects on both the surrounding environment and greenhouse emissions.
Reduce Energy Use
The creation of virgin metal materials uses far more energy than using recycled metal. From mining and processing the ore to shaping and treating the metal for use, lots of expensive and environmentally damaging energy must be used.
The process of repurposing waste metal is far more waste efficient; for example, recycled aluminium requires 95% less energy! Copper is another energy efficient waste metal, with recycled copper requiring 90% less energy.
Protect Natural Resources
Virgin metal requires natural ore to be mined and processed, using up limited natural resources. However, when using recycled metal, no additional materials need to be mined, helping to preserve natural resources.
Mining is a disruptive process, to natural resources and local environments and wildlife. It is also costly, reflected in high consumer prices for virgin metal. By increasing metal recycling and reducing mining of ores, the environment, consumers and ore reserves benefit greatly.
Money isn’t everything, but the recycling industry greatly benefits the economy through job creation and local investment. Where dumping metal in landfill may take one employee driving a truck, the recycling process takes many employees performing vital steps.
While benefitting the environment, recycling also benefits the economy.
Metal is a great material to recycle because it can generally be recycled again and again. Some metals, such as aluminium, may degrade with each recycling cycle resulting in a material of varying quality, however for the most part, metal can be recycled an unlimited amount. This ensures metal is diverted from landfill indefinitely.