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June 25, 2018

3 Things You Need to Know About Recycling Steel and Other Metals

What are things you need to know about recycling steel and other metals?

  1. Recycling steel
  2. Recycling aluminum
  3. Recycling copper



Recycling steel and other metals is an increasingly important contributor to the manufacturing sector as well as the environment in countries like the Philippines. Some construction materials used in building projects are even made with recycled metals. Through the support of the metal recycling industry, a large number of workers are kept in employment, energy is routinely saved, and local spaces are protected from discarded debris.

Metals can be recycled over and over again without altering much of their properties. Steel is the most recycled material on the planet according to the American Iron and Steel Institute or AISI. Aside from steel, the other metals that are highly recycled include aluminum, copper, silver, brass, and gold. Recycling these metals that have value motivates people to collect them and use them as construction materials or sell them to recycling operations.

There is also an environmental importance when it comes to recycling metals, in addition to the financial incentives. By recycling steel and other metals, you are helping preserve natural resources because recycling uses less energy to process compared to the manufacture of new products using virgin raw materials. Recycling also reduces the emission of harmful gases like carbon dioxide.

Here are three things you need to know about recycling steel and other metals so that you too can enjoy its benefits.



Recycling steel

Steel is one of the most commonly used metals in the entire world. It is used for all kinds of purposes, from manufacturing cars and furniture to being used as a construction material in the Philippines and other developing countries. Steel products are easily defined by their characteristics like their tendency to rust and their magnetic properties because a magnet will always stick to steel.

It is best to trade in scrap or used steel in a relatively undamaged form for you to make the best of the money-making potential in recycling it. For example, steel products like aerosol cans should not be squashed, pierced, or crushed. Instead, they should be emptied and relieved of their high pressure.

Doing these precautions will help ease the recycling process. If necessary, the steel is separated from other components before being flattened, baled, or shredded for melting down. After going through the process of recycling, the steel usually finds its way into manufacturing vehicles like cars, boats, motorcycles, etc. as a cost-effective construction material.


  • Steel as a sustainable construction material

Most of those in the construction industry would probably agree that steel is one of the most sustainable of the major structural materials. Steel has many benefits when it comes to sustainability, the effects of which can be realized almost immediately as soon as the material is used.


These benefits can include:

  • Flexibility
  • Speed
  • Adaptability
  • Long lasting appeal
  • Reusability
  • Low waste
  • Ability to be manufactured off-site
  • Resource efficiency
  • Demountability
  • Safety
  • Recyclability

These inherent characteristics of steel make it an ideal material for green construction. It results in numerous environmental, economic, and social benefits to satisfy the requirements for sustainability.


  • Use of steel in green construction

Because steel is a safe and fast material for construction, your time on site can be significantly reduced. This means quicker returns, less disruption to the local community, and lower costs. Steel is a predictable material and does not have any unpleasant surprises because it is manufactured off-site in a safe factory environment and arrives on your site when you need it.

During this process, little to no waste is produced and what little waste is produced can be easily returned to the supply chain of the steel. Steel is resource efficient, has a high strength-to-weight ratio and treads lightly on the ground. This makes it very easy to deliver which can also mean reduced emissions.


  • Steel as a LEED material

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a program that certifies green building which requires a third-party to judge, review, and certify a project if it meets certain mandatory requirements and reaches a certain level of “greenness.”


Some of the criteria that determine how green a project is include where materials come from, how they are made, how they are disposed of, and which ones are used. Using more green materials that meet these criteria such as steel can be good for the environment as well as the occupants of the building.



Recycling Aluminum

(Source: Flickr)

Recycling aluminum

Aluminum can be found in many different places and items aside from just beverage cans. It can also be used in objects such as window frames, doors and door frames, gutters, and many more. Aluminum can be defined by its characteristics like its natural white-silver color that is often covered with white paint, as well as its relative bendiness.

When you take aluminum to a scrap dealer or recycling center, it is usually sent to be turned into small chips. This is process is called “shredding” and it is generally done to the metal before it is sent for smelting. Any harmful gas, dust, or compound produced as a side effect of manufacturing aluminum is mitigated through the use of modern technology during the smelting process.

Once the aluminum is smelted, it is poured into large sheets and ingots to be molded. The recycled metal is then reused in a variety of places including in beverage cans or new car castings.

Research shows recycling aluminum requires 95 percent less energy to produce compared to aluminum made from raw materials. In addition, because one of the more common purposes for aluminum is to be an alloy to other materials like zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper, the process for making these alloys also enjoy energy savings when aluminum is recycled.



Recycling copper

Most people can probably identify copper through its distinctive characteristics and coloration. Copper is reddish when it is still in a good condition, turns darker brown when it is worn and has a tendency to turn green when corroded.

Copper is often used in electrical and electronic wiring so it is important that copper which has been recycled is graded and inspected for its integrity and quality. High-quality copper materials are selected for improvement by melting down through a process known as ‘fire refining’. The copper can then be deoxidized and transferred into ingots or billets after going through this process.

Recycling copper can offer you several benefits when it comes to energy efficiency. This is largely because of the status of the metal as a popular electrical and thermal conductor. There have been reports conducted that show the performance of copper is unaffected after undergoing the recycling process. The metal still retains all of its electrical and thermal properties once recycled.

Overall, copper is one of the most valuable metals you can collect for recycling.



Key Takeaway

Practically, almost any metal can be recycled and transformed into new metal products of comparable quality.

Because of this, the metal recycling industry’s production of secondary raw materials to be used in manufacturing results in significant reductions in the use of energy and organic resources.

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