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Where Do Metals Go After The Recycling Process?

Posted on 22 March 2017

While the recycling industry churns away, and more scrap metal gets recycled every year, there’s much that happens once the recycled metal is ready to be used again. The fact is, old vehicles, old appliances, and industrial waste all contribute to new sources of recycled metal. These materials are practically as good as virgin metal because none of the physical properties are compromised in the recycling process. The good news is that world demand for recycled metal is ever growing.

As a manufacturing process, metal recycling is quite involved. Even before any processing, scrap metal must be properly separated into different types and effectively decontaminated. Clearly, steel and iron will undergo different processing than aluminum and copper. But eventually, at the mill or foundry, high quality recycled material can be manufactured into new raw metal. This will most often take the form of sheet metal, piping, or beams – all ready for re-manufacturing.

With scrap metal, nothing is left to waste. Even leftovers can be further shredded, melted in super hot furnaces, and added to other metal products to enhance quality. The idea is to re-process and re-manufacture every bit of scrap metal. Indeed, in many cases, like beverage cans, the metal will be used and re-used as waste materials are reclaimed, recycled, and re-manufactured. Effectively, the whole process is repeated over and over, with less and less reliance on virgin metal ore.

From a business point-of-view, scrap metal recycling makes economic sense. From collectors, to processors, to foundries, every business sector can profit. And as long as supply and demand is kept in balance worldwide, the cost-benefit aspect will sustain. But beyond business, there are tremendous benefits to the environment when waste metal is recycled, rather than dumped. It may not be that noticeable to the average consumer, but long-term results are evident.

While the primary goal of recycling metal is to make new products, there are far broader benefits. First, massive amounts of waste material are kept away from landfills. Second, the need for virgin resources is greatly diminished. And finally, much less energy is expended through reclamation and recycling compared to mining and production. From a “big picture” perspective, scrap metal recycling, processing, and remanufacturing are actually a major boost to the economy.

Recycled Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the most recycled metals in the world. It gets re-manufactured into beverage cans, filing cabinets, even rolls of aluminum foil. Best of all, there is no limit to how many times aluminum is recycled. Cans, for instance, can be recycled and back in the store in 60 days.

Recycled Steel

Strong and durable, recycled steel is used in buildings, shipbuilding, and railway construction. As well, recycled steel can be remanufactured into wire materials and all manner of tools. Across North America, steel has become one of the most recycled metals in every aspect of industry.

Whether it’s iron, copper, aluminum, or steel, recycled metals are used extensively in everything from aircraft production to automobile manufacturing. Home appliances also depend heavily on recycled materials, particularly aluminum and copper. And finally, metal furniture of all types is often made of recycled metal – it’s a cost effective approach that maintains product quality.

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