Since the early ages, we’ve discovered that it is easier to recycle scraps of metal left over from the production of other products than it is to produce new metals from scratch. In modern times, we now find that recycling scrap metals not only saves time and precious natural resources, but it is also better for the environment.
For the most part, scrap metal is separated into two categories, ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous alloys contain iron and include steel, malleable iron, and gray iron. Because iron has magnetic properties, attraction to magnets is commonly used to identify ferrous alloys. Non-ferrous refers to any metal that does not contain iron. This category includes aluminum- and copper-based alloys. These materials are non-magnetic, corrosion resistant and—most importantly, for separation purposes, heavier. The ferrous metals are compacted and shipped to steel mills and foundries, while the remaining non-ferrous material is characterized even further with a focus on aluminum and copper.
Estimates are that 84 percent of the iron and steel used in foundries is recycled scrap. Recycling steel requires 56 percent less energy than producing steel from iron ore, and reduces Co2 emissions by up to 58 percent. Recycling also reduces the need for mining virgin ore.
What is the most recycled material on the planet?
Steel is the most recycled material on the planet, more than all other materials combined. Like copper, the amazing metallurgical properties of steel allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance from one product to another. Steel is the engine that drives the recycling of many consumer goods.
The Benefits of Recycling Steel
According to the Steel Recycling Institute, automobiles are recycled at the rate of 92.5 percent followed by appliances at 90 percent and the 72 percent recycling rate of steel packaging. Recycled steel products are found in appliances, automotive products, buildings, highways, defence products, and the energy industry.