Metal Recycling

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Metal is the most valuable of all recyclable materials. Scrap metal is a key ingredient in many consumer products, from cans to appliances among many others. Metal surrounds us in our homes. Yet, since you only replace these household appliances every few years, you might have forgotten that even large metal objects are recyclable. If you're wondering how you can get rid of your large scale metal collection, don't worry—the solution awaits in your local scrap yard. Most metals eventually pass through a scrap metal yard, often on their way to getting repurposed in a new incarnation.

Collection

The scrap metal recycling process starts with the collection of all materials made of metal. Some businesses have established scrap yards where people collect different metals and get paid. Different metals cost differently at the yards.

Sorting

The simplest way of differentiating metal is by separating them into two types: recyclable and trash. The quality of the recyclable product is dependent on the quality of the original products. Therefore, this calls for a thorough quality checkup during the sorting process. Also, put into consideration that the products should compose at least 50 percent metal. Even if the metal is covered with other materials like plastic, it's worth recycling if it's mostly composed of metal.

metal objects sorted for recycling

Separating ferrous metals from nonferrous metals is one of the most critical steps in the sorting process. Ferrous metals contain iron, and they are recognized by the fact that magnets attract them. Nonferrous metals do not stick to magnets and are easily pulled out of the mixed waste. These days, in large recycling industries, sensors used to identify metals through x-ray, and infra-red scanning has become popular. The use of these technologies can effectively improve metal recovery rates.

Processing

slab recycled metal

After sorting, the next process is compacting or squeezing the metal. Metals are squashed using machines to create blocks or slabs that are easier to transport through trucks or conveyor belts. Industries utilize heavy-duty machines to compress the scrap metals into manageable sizes that are ready to be processed.

Shredding

scrap recycled metal in cubes

The shredding process starts immediately after crushing or breaking the metal. The scrap metal is broken down into tiny pieces to make room for further processing. The melting process of smaller pieces consumes less energy as compared to when they are in large chunks. The reason being smaller pieces have a large surface area to volume ratio. In the end, aluminum is changed into sheets, while steel gets converted into steel blocks.

Melting

melted metal pouring into a mold

The crashed metal is taken to a furnace specifically designed to melt it based on its distinctive properties. The melting process requires a considerable amount of energy. However, the energy needed for melting recycled metal is less than the energy used to make metal from its virgin materials. The melting process can take from just a few minutes to hours, depending on the furnace's size.

Purification

Purification of metals is done to ensure that non-metallic material like paper or paint is removed from the final product. One of the purification methods used is electrolysis; this process gives the highest purity metal product and the best recovery of valuable impurities.

Solidifying the metal

recycled aluminum ignots

Solidification involves transforming the melted metal and alloys into a solid piece that can be used in the production of various metal products. Therefore, after purification, the molten metal is taken to a cooling chamber to cool and solidify.

Transportation

Once done with the solidification process, the metals are ready for use. They are then supplied to various factories where they use as raw materials to produce new products. When the products made from these metal bars get to their end, the metal recycling process starts again.

In conclusion, metal is an essential resource that should be recycled to ensure a steady supply, prevent environmental degradation, and improve the economy. Without recycling, the only way to acquire metal is through mining metal from its raw material. Therefore, recycling enables us to avoid putting additional pressure on our environment and natural resources through mining. The bottom line is, we significantly reduce the burden on our natural resources every time we choose to recycle scrap metal. In addition to this, recycling scrap metals saves more energy and produces fewer gas emissions than making new metal from its ore.