How Stainless Steel Is Recycled

Stainless steel is one of the most recyclable metals in the world, making it a far better environmental choice than many other materials. It’s true that stainless steel products have a very long life expectancy – often up to several decades – but there will eventually come a time when they will reach the end of their useful life. This is not always due to the product wearing out or failing. It can sometimes be caused by changes in design, or the advancement of technology.

The recycling of stainless steel is a detailed process, involving the separating out of the valuable raw materials that go into the production of this versatile alloy. Nickel, chromium and iron are all valuable commodities on their own, so they are systematically separated and recovered, before being put back into the manufacturing system.

Other types of stainless steel may also include vanadium, tungsten and titanium, all of which are expensive, rare and hard to come by, as they are often found in parts of the world where there is economic or political instability. The successful reclaiming and recycling of these materials is therefore essential to ensure enough stainless steel is produced annually to meet the word’s demands.

New stainless steel usually contains about 60% recycled content. This typically comprises 35% industrial scrap and 25% reclaimed scrap. The remaining 40% is made up of new raw materials.

Reclaimed scrap usually comes from appliances that have reached the end of their service life, such as washing machines, fridges, industrial tanks etc. Industrial scrap comes from manufacturing, engineering and fabrication sources, and is made up of production off-cuts or industrial returns.

This scrap is fed into a large shredder to break it into smaller pieces before being chemically analysed and stored by type.

At Steelmor, we’re proud to be associated with such a durable and environmentally friendly product as stainless steel. We are a leading stockist and manufacturer of stainless steel products in South Africa, and we look forward to chatting to you about how we can help you meet your product requirements.