Get the awesome construction innovation content in your inbox every week

Give it a try—it only takes a click to unsubscribe.

Sustainability

Metal Recycling: Pros, Cons and Processes

Alice-India Garwood
by Alice-India Garwood on January 28, 2019

Recycling scrap metal can be a big part of most construction jobs, getting rid of waste materials and moving on to the next job. But how much do you know about what happens after you drop your metal off at the scrap yard? What do you know about the pros and cons?

Scrap metal recycling can be split in to 5 key stages.

Sorting and separation.

This is quite self explanatory, the metal that  is collected by scrap yards needs to be separated into types. This is usually done using machinery and magnets.

Crushing and shredding.

The cool part! Again self explanatory, the larger pieces are broken into more manageable pieces for the next process.

Construction, Technology, Recycling, Steel, Iron, Metal, Sustainable, Green, Materials, Supplies, Bobtrade[Photo Credit: QML]

Melting.

Again, super self explanatory the metal is melted down. Pretty cool. Not as cool as crushing and shredding but still pretty cool.

Purifying.

This is how the best possible product is created at the end of the process with gentle and continuous stirring, at a stable temperature. This liquid is then electrolocised with an Eddy current before being poured into moulds.

Solidifying.

We won’t patronise you with explaining this, it really is as simple as it sounds!

Construction, Technology, Recycling, Steel, Iron, Metal, Sustainable, Green, Materials, Supplies, Bobtrade[Photo Credit: EIT Raw Materials]

Then, after this, the newly recycled metal needs to be transported and sold so the process can be started again.

Materials like steel can be recycled an infinite amount of times. In fact, did you know, 40% of steel being used worldwide is recycled?

"40% of the steel being used worldwide has been recycled."

Steel and iron are the most recycled metals in the world because of the ease of separation and processing. Magnets are often used in the process of separation and these are two highly magnetic metals.

There are a lot of pros and cons regarding whether it is better to purchase recycled metal or have raw metal extracted from the ground.

Construction, Technology, Recycling, Steel, Iron, Metal, Sustainable, Green, Materials, Supplies, Bobtrade[Photo Credit: Paques]

Pros of raw metal extraction are that it is a source of high revenue. The raw materials can be exported and sold overseas as well as at home. With this comes job creation and a boost to local economy. Not only this but the injection in to the national economy from companies paying taxes and tariffs. There is also the tendency for facilities neighbouring mines to be increased eg schools and hospitals.

Whilst the pros are financial, the cons are environmental.

The process of raw metal extraction is damaging to the earth, with the potential for soil, water, air and noise pollution affecting the local area. If the companies in charge of mining do not act to offset this damage it could be irreparable and have a negative impact on local communities. It’s not just the extraction that costs the planet, the processing of the metals after extraction also creates cycle of depletion of natural resources like wood, oil and water.

Construction, Technology, Recycling, Steel, Iron, Metal, Sustainable, Green, Materials, Supplies, Bobtrade[Photo Credit: Steel Force]

On the other hand, the recycling of metals has the benefit of being much more eco friendly than raw metal extraction. Also, the recycled metals have already been processed and refined once before, so when they go through the recycling process, less energy needs to be used which is much better for the environment. This process is also less expensive than raw metal extraction.

The disadvantages are mainly that the recycling process creates less jobs than extraction does. With that in mind though, the benefit to the planet is exponential.

It is with high hopes that we look to the future of metal recycling and a world in which higher rates of our steel and iron are pre recycled so that we can reduce the devastation of metal extraction on the earth.

Tags: Sustainability

AUTHOR
Alice-India Garwood

Alice-India Garwood

Content Marketing Executive at Bobtrade. Interested in design, sustainability and the history of construction. I love all things indie and theatrical.