What metals can be recycled?

Over 400 million tonnes of metal is recycled each and every year, processing ferrous and non-ferrous metal scrap into valuable secondary raw materials for the smelting of new metals.

Metals suitable for recycling are generally sorted into two separate groups: steel and aluminum. The simplest way to determine the type of metal you have is to conduct a simple magnet test. Steel is magnetic and will stick to a magnet but aluminum is not. Some metal products will feature a symbol

Steel is a major component in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, cars, machines and appliances used across the world.

Aluminum is a similarly popular metal that’s capable of being melted at comparatively lower temperatures than steel, making it particularly attractive for recycling. Sources for recycled aluminium include end-of-life vehicles, aircraft, boats, bicycles, computers, cookware, gutters, siding and electrical wiring.

The economic viability of metal recycling is such that the energy saved by recycling metals needs to be much more than the energy needed to produce new like-for-like metals from ores.

For instance, aluminium cans use just five per cent of the energy needed to produce them from scratch during the recycling process; as well as releasing only five per cent of the amount of greenhouse gases. In fact, just a single recycled aluminium can save enough energy to power an 100-watt bulb for up to four hours.

A lot of the metals we use in our daily lives are in fact mixtures, known as alloys. This can pose a number of issues, most notably impacting the ability to sort different metals ready for recycling. Subsequently, the process of metal recycling is not quite as simple as putting it all together and melting it down.

At ASM Metal Recycling we don’t just take in aluminium and steel for recycling. Take a look at some of the other metals you can scrap with us, with a quick guide as to where you can find these types of metals at home:

  • Copper – premium-grade copper can hold up to 95 per cent of the value of the original primary metal itself. Scrap copper wiring can be one of the easiest sources of scrap metal: sourced from the base of televisions and computer monitors; inside laptops and DVD players; within large and small electrical appliances; and in handheld electronics.
  • Brass – have you replaced your doorknobs recently? You’ll find that many of today’s doorknobs are made of brass which can pay very well in scrap terms. For instance, if you’ve just changed all the doorknobs in your home and you’ve stored the old doorknobs away, that could add up to a haul of 50kg worth of prime recycling metal!
  • Zinc – it’s said the average road vehicle features 10kg worth of zinc in galvanised body parts. End-of-life vehicles can be pulled apart and these parts can be recycled and transformed into like-for-like parts with exactly the same material quality.
  • Tin – recycling tin requires 99 per cent less energy than creating it from scratch. A good source for scrap tin at home are old kitchen equipment such as soup ladles, woks and cooking bowls.
  • Lead – the use of secondary lead slashes CO2 emissions by 99 per cent. Pre-1970’s houses are likely to have lead water pipes, roof flashings and box gutters. Those working in the construction industry will also encounter lead products on an almost daily basis – usually replacing them with alternative materials. Don’t throw any lead into the skip, no matter how insignificant; it remains very valuable due to its recyclable qualities.