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Scrap Metal Recycling: Everything You Need to Know

Metal is a natural resource that is mined from ore for use in manufacturing and other industries. As we have become more aware of environmental challenges, an emphasis has been placed on ensuring metal is recycled and reused for other applications.


Recycling metal requires significantly less energy than the initial mining and manufacturing process. For this reason, metal must be recycled to lower carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the rate at which natural resources are used. To incentivise scrap metal recycling, recycling facilities have begun purchasing waste metal from businesses. This practice promotes commercial sustainability without generating profit loss.


Keep reading to learn more about the different types of recyclable metal and discover how the metal recycling process works.

Different Types of Metals

Metals refer to a pure metal that is made up of a singular metal, while alloys are a combination of metals that have been melted together. Scrap metal can come from a variety of sources. As long as scrap metal is at least 50% metal, it’s likely it can be partly or completely recycled.

Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metals contain iron and are often magnetic, making them particularly useful in vehicle manufacturing.


Ferrous metals include:

●      Iron

●      Mild steel

Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-ferrous metals are not magnetic but tend to be rarer and more valuable with a higher corrosion resistance.


Non-ferrous metals include:

●      Aluminium

●      Titanium

●      Copper

●      Silver

●      Lead

●      Brass


Alloys can be made to create a product which utilises the best properties of each metal. Stainless steel is an alloy made up of iron, carbon and chromium, making it a ferrous metal with high corrosion resistance. For alloys to be recycled, they must first be separated into their separate elements.

Non-Recyclable Metals

There are some cases where metals cannot be recycled as they would release harmful toxins into the environment. Metals that have been used to store toxic chemicals or fossil fuels also must not be recycled because they could leach out harmful substances.

The Metal Recycling Process


Sorting your metal into ferrous and non-ferrous will be done by the recycling facility. However, using a magnet to separate scrap metal yourself can ensure you get the best price for your waste metal.


The next step in preparing scrap metal for recycling is cleaning and rinsing the metal. Scrap metal should be free of plastic or other non-metal materials and residue. If scrap metal has a great deal of rust or paint, try to remove as much as you can. This helps recycling workers accurately evaluate the quality of the metal and streamline the recycling process once it arrives at the recycling facility.


Once your waste metal is clean, store it in a labelled container which specifies the metal type and ensures a smooth handover to recycling workers.


To promote metal collection at your workplace, it's recommended to provide several bins for each metal type e.g. iron, copper, aluminium, and alloy. Easily identifiable metal storage facilitates proper metal storage and enables seamless metal recycling.


Once your scrap metal has been gathered and stored, you can schedule a scrap metal collection. The recycling provider will come out to your business to evaluate, price and remove the scrap metal. Even if you have non-recyclable scrap metal, waste disposal services can take it off your hands and dispose of it accordingly.


Once the scrap metal has arrived at the recycling facility, the sorting process will begin. Regardless of whether you have attempted to sort your metal into different types, it must be checked for quality assurance. If metals aren't sorted correctly, it could harm the recycling and subsequent manufacturing process.


If a metal is coated with other materials, it will be stripped and separated before an industrial magnet is used to separate ferrous and non-ferrous metals. In the next step, metal will be sorted into types. This can be done initially by sight and weight, by grouping similar colour and weight metals together. Finally, magnets and sensors are used to separate metals based on their purity.


During metal processing, metals must be compacted and cut using hydraulic machinery that uses water to cut large pieces of metal into smaller pieces.


The small pieces of metal will then be sent through a hammer mill to be shredded. Shredding the metal helps speed up the melting process by increasing the surface-to-volume ratio.


Metals will then be put into the furnace for melting. The temperature and time spent in the furnace vary for each metal type based on size and individual properties. Although heating the furnace requires energy, it's significantly less than the initial metal mining process.


Once the metal is in liquid form, it will undergo a process of purification to remove any impurities or contaminants. Certain metals require a process of electrolysis where an electric current is passed through the metal to remove unwanted substances. However, some metals only require a magnet to be passed over the metal to extract any additional metals.


Depending on the desired shape or intended use of the recycled metal, the metal will be poured into a cast and left in a cooling chamber to solidify. Some metals are cooled to form sheets, while others form larger compact blocks.


Once the metal has solidified and cooled down, it’s ready to be reused. The metal will be transported to manufacturing centres belonging to various industries to create cars, appliances and much more. Since the lifecycle of metal is unlimited, metal can be recycled an infinite number of times.

Why Your Business Should Begin Metal Recycling

Metal recycling is a simple green practice that businesses can implement that brings financial and environmental benefits. Metal recycling is not only profitable but also helps corporations reduce the environmental impact associated with their operations and do their part to tackle the climate crisis.


Metal recycling facilities offer a reasonable price for the waste material they purchase. When businesses conserve their scrap metal and send it off to a recycling facility, they will make a profit from waste materials. Metal recycling also decreases the quantity of waste sent to landfills and reduces waste-related costs.

Scrap Metal Recycling Services

Currently, only approximately 30% of metal is recycled. At A39 Skip Hire, we aim to help businesses incorporate metal recycling into their sustainable practices. We’re proud to provide ferrous and non-ferrous metal collection services in North Devon and North Cornwall.


Instead of letting waste metal pile up at your organisation, book our waste disposal solutions to shift your waste metal and earn a profit on your recyclable metal. Our team of licensed waste metal collection specialists will visit your premises to analyse the grade of your metal, offering you a fair price for recyclable metal and removing all waste metal, whether it can be recycled or not.


To find out more about our metal recycling services, call our team in Bude at 01288 358111 or contact us online.


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