Learn to recycle metal with our complete guide

Metal SortingResidents and industrialists in every country nowadays make use of different metals for various purposes. They have to understand the overall importance of the safe and successful approach for recycling all metals. In general, metal recycling involves the collection of various metals, categorization of such metals based on quality and type, process, purification and creation of brand new products. Almost every metal can be recycled for several times without changing their features. Steel is the most recycled metal in the world at this time. However, other recycled metals are gold, brass, copper, silver, and aluminum.

Basics of metal

There are two categories of metals namely aluminum and steel. Steel is magnetic, and aluminum is non-magnetic.  If you use a magnet, then you can find out metal of your waste.  Drink cans and food cans nowadays are usually made of aluminum and steel respectively.  Users of these cans and other categories of metal products do not know how they have to deal with such things after they use them. They can deposit used cans at the local metal recycling bank. They have to keep in mind that metallic plastic films like chocolate wrappers cannot be recycled. 

All metals are the most valuable materials and known by their recycling benefits in recent times. Metals can be recycled without degrading their characteristics.  The overall value of the scrap metal encourages everyone to collect it for sale and recycling operations. People who aid in the metal recycling in any aspect do not fail to contribute a little to preserve the overall natural resources. They have to understand that a proper metal recycling produces a smaller amount of carbon dioxide and other unsafe gases. Manufacturing businesses throughout the world reduce the production cost due to the most efficient metal recycling.

Facts about metal recycling

  • Up to 60% of the rubbish in the dustbin can be recycled.
  • An unreleased energy in the average dustbin, every year can power a TV for 5000 hours.
  • Currently, 30% metal is recycled regardless of almost every metal can be reused again
  • Approximately 40% of steel production worldwide is made using the recycled steel
  • Almost 16% of the cost you spend on any product nowadays pays only for the packaging that ends up as rubbish.
  • 9 out of 10 people would recycle when they aware about benefits of metal recycling
  • 400 million tons of metals recycled throughout the world every year
  • The aluminum can is mostly recycled in recent years
  • The overall energy in a single aluminum can waste is equal to the same can filled with gasoline

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals

Ferrous metals are made of iron and copper.  Metals in this genre include, but not limited to alloy steel, carbon steel, cast iron and wrought iron. Precious metals are non-ferrous. These metals are including, but never limited to palladium, iridium, silver, platinum, and gold.

Step by step metal recycling process

A regular enhancement in the metal recycling process worldwide nowadays gives a wide range of benefits to industries using metals in different forms. The overall metal recycling process nowadays is improved regarding the efficiency and safety. The following seven stages are involved in the metal recycling.

  • Collection
  • Sorting
  • Processing
  • Melting
  • Purification
  • Solidifying
  • Transportation of the metal bars

The overall scrap value of the metal in any form is higher than any other material. Many people and industries these days sell scrap metals to scrap yard instead of throwing them away.  Scrap vehicles are the main source of the scrap ferrous metal worldwide. On the other hand, other scrap ferrous metal sources are farm equipment, ships, railroad tracks and large steel structures. The most successful companies with a specialization in the scrap metal collection nowadays play the major role behind the overall metals recycled every year. This is because the collection of scrap metal is the base for recycling of the metal.


Once scrap metals are collected and gathered in one place, the next process is sorting. This sorting process involves separation of metals from the mixed multi-materials or mixed scrap metal stream. There are many methods of sorting available in the metal recycling process. However, leading industries nowadays prefer and use the automatic recycling elements in the most efficient manner. For example, these industries use magnets and sensors for efficiently separating metals.  Scrappers make use of the magnet, material color, and weight to find out the metal type at the entrepreneurial level. They know that aluminum is silver in color and light in weight. They increase the value of metals by separating clean metals from the dirty metals.


Metals are shredded adequately for further processing. The main purpose of shredding is to enhance the overall melting process. There is a large surface to volume ratio for small shredded metals. These small shredded metals can be melted by less than the usual energy required for the same quantity of metals without shredding. For example, steel is converted into steel blocks, and aluminum is converted into small sheets.


A large furnace is used to melt the scrap metal. Each genre of metals is taken into a particular furnace for proper melting. There is a considerable energy used for melting scrap metals.  However, the overall energy required for both melting and recycling metals is less than the energy required for producing metals from virgin raw materials.  The main factors and time duration of the metal melting process are as follows.

  • The size of the furnace
  • The degree of the heat of the furnace
  • The volume of metal


The main purpose of purification is to ensure that the final product is free from contaminants and rich in quality. There are many methods of purification used nowadays for purifying the metal. Electrolysis is one of the best and affordable methods used to purify the metal as maximum as possible.


The conveyer belt carries the melted metals to cool and solidify the purified metals. All scrap metals come into a particular shape at this stage. The bar shape is the most common shape of scrap metals. This is because the bar shapes of any material can be carried and used for the production of other metal parts without deficiency.

Transportation of the metal bars 

Metals are ready to use after they are cooled and solidified. These metals are transported to factories and used as raw materials for producing brand new metal products.

The metal recycling process starts again when these products come to end of their useful life.

Technologies used in the metal recycling  

Advanced technologies these days are handy to separate non-ferrous metals. However, there are ever-increasing requirements for enhancing the metal recycling technologies. The sorting process associated with the metal recycling involves different things. However, a proper separation of the ferrous metals from nonferrous metals is the most significant thing. Cranes fitted with an electromagnet are used to remove large pieces of ferrous scrap as efficient as possible.

There are many challenges in sorting metals from a combined stream of recyclable materials.  Once papers are removed from this mixed stream, plastic and metals only available. If the electric current is induced across the stream, then metals only get affected. This process is known as Eddy Current Separation. This modern technology levitates aluminum irrespective of its non-magnetic nature and lets plastics to drop out of the process.  Once enough scrap of precious metals like gold, palladium, and platinum are collected from the electronic waste, there are loads of favorite things and the maximum return on investment in the metal recycling process. X-rays and infra-red scanners are used to identify valuable metals from the metal scrap. 

The main types of metal sensing processes are as follows:

  • Pyrometallurgy
  • Hydrometallurgy
  • Biotechnology

The overall metal recovery rate nowadays is increased due to an efficient use of these technologies.

Remarkable benefits

There are many benefits of metal recycling in recent times. The most exclusive benefits of efficient metal recycling are as follows.

  • Conserve natural resources
  • Save energy
  • Contributes to trade balances
  • Profitable business opportunity
  • Ever-increasing jobs

Conserve natural resources

Recycling a ton of steel does not fail to conserve 2500 pounds of iron ore, 120 pounds of limestone and 1400 pounds of coal. An efficient recycling of a ton of aluminum saves 14-megawatt hours of electricity and 8 tons of bauxite ore. 

Save energy

A successful metal recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and consumes less energy than making products from the pure metal. There is no need to use natural resources and energy further when we recycle metal.

Contributes to trade balances

A metal recycling nowadays enhances different aspects of the trade balances.

Profitable business opportunity

There are a notable growth and profit in the metal recycling industry. Many industrialists commence the metal recycling business in recent times.

Ever-increasing jobs

A large-scale metal recycling process creates employment opportunities. Educated and uneducated people can get an appropriate job in this sector. Also, people could recycle could make some money out of it. At the current scrap metal prices, this could increase the income of a person or a family by a slight margin. Find a metal recycling center near you where to sell scrap metal and check the prices to see how much you are going to earn.

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