Metal Recycling: How to Recycle Metal and its Importance

Metals are essential, and versatile, and can be used in a number of ways. Metals can be used for industrial purposes such as manufacturing trucks, cars, airplanes, ships, and railways. They can also be used to manufacture domestic items such as cutlery, crockery, and even packaging. The good thing about metal recycling is that it can be recycled repeatedly without altering its properties.

The most common recyclable metals include aluminum and steel. The other metals, for example, silver, copper, brass, and gold, are so valuable that they are rarely thrown away to be collected for recycling. 

The general rule is that a product needs to be at least 50 percent metal. Even if that metal is surrounded by other materials like plastic, it’s worth recycling if it’s made mostly out of metal.

You may have products with only a small amount of metal, but it’s easy to remove, and separate the metal. For example, a plastic three-ring binder is not scrapped metal, but the metal rings can be easily removed and used.

Scrap metal is classified as either ferrous (containing iron, such as steel) or nonferrous (everything else). The way to identify whether the metal is ferrous or nonferrous is with a magnet. As ferrous metals contain iron, they stick to a magnet; nonferrous metals don’t and are easily pulled out of the mixed waste stream.

After sorting, the next step is to compact or squeeze the metal. All the recycled materials are squeezed and squashed using machines so that they do not occupy so much space in the conveyor belts.

After the crushing and breaking of the metal, the shredding process starts. The metals are broken down into tiny pieces or sheets to allow further processing. The small pieces have a large surface-to-volume ratio that can be melted using less energy as compared to when they are in large pieces of metal. Normally, steel is changed into steel blocks, on the other hand, aluminum is converted into sheets.

Melting of the scrap metal takes place in a large furnace. Each metal is taken to a furnace that is specifically designed to melt that particular metal based on its specific properties. The melting process uses a considerable amount of energy. However, the energy required for melting recycled metal is less compared to the energy required to make metal from its raw material.

The furnace is heated to appropriate degrees capable of melting the particular metal. Melting can take minutes or hours depending on how big the furnace is, the volume of metal placed in the furnace and the heat degree of the furnace.