From cars to planes, refrigerators to computers, metal is an essential part of our everyday life. Of course, as with any product that eventually outlives its usefulness, even metal can factor in the global waste disposal crisis. However, most countries have metal recycling processes that we can all make full use of to get the most out of this precious resource.
Aluminium and steel form the backbone of the metal recycling system as they can be broken down and reused again and again without losing their properties. Of course, as we know, recycling these metals is significantly cheaper and more environmentally friendly than mining and manufacturing them.
The Metal Recycling Process
As with any recycling process, the metals need to be collected at a central point. Most of this recyclable material comes from scrap dealers who know the value of an old sheet of steel.
Once at the scrap metal yard, the metals have to be sorted by type and quality, and they are then usually compacted into manageable blocks in order to be handled by the conveyor system. Different metals are treated differently during the recycling process and therefore need to be sorted at an early stage.
Often, a recycling plant will make use of super-heated blowers which remove plastics, paint and other impurities from the metal before the next step.
The metal now needs to be broken down into smaller pieces and melted, therefore it is most often shredded and then fed into the furnace. Once the metals have melted they are purified and this pure molten metal is then allowed to cool.
Aluminium is generally rolled into sheets for transporting, while steel is most often moulded into bars or slabs.
This clever, and environmentally-friendly system allows these valuable resources to return to the market for reincarnation into another strong and useful tool.