Metal Recycling Process

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Scrap metal is readily available in the UK, many companies and residential properties produce scrap metal within their general waste. Recycling metal is without doubt an important part of preserving the environment. Reusing Metal is an ideal way to deal with this type of waste, one of the many benefits of reusing scrap metal in this way is that metal does not change its physical properties even after being reused several times, todays cars are tomorrows tin cans or bicycles, many items use recycled metal in their production.

Disposing of scrap metal in landfill sites is harmful to the environment and surroundings and may pose risk by contaminating the land as it rusts, rots and breaks down. Many day to day items contain scrap metal once they have reached the end of their usefulness, from cars to washing machines, the list of items is huge and it’s crazy to think that we just discard these items as rubbish when in fact they have a value, a direct cash value.

There are many companies and individual people making lots of money from collecting, sorting and recycling scrap metal, for some people it is a way of life. Scrap metal that finds its way into recycling plants can be generalised into two main areas, ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous metals include things like steel, iron and tin and non-ferrous metals include things like copper, lead, aluminium plus many more. As a rule of thumb, ferrous metals stick to magnets and non-ferrous don’t, it’s the non-ferrous metals that generally have a higher scrap value.


Collecting and Sorting Scrap Scrap metal from many different collection sites and scrap buying companies ends up in bulk at the recycle plant. Sorting out scrap metal is relatively easy. A magnet can be used to identify the ferrous variety because the magnets will stick to it. This is the principle used in the whole recycling process. In a scrap metal plant, the bulk is mainly made up of old vehicles and home appliances etc.

As soon as the waste metal arrives at the plant, usually by truck, the process begins, a bull dozer and a crane are used to screen and check the scrap. There are certain items that cannot be processed within such a plant. These may include propane tanks, glass and heavy iron. The sorting of the materials can be labour intensive.

The operators use the grabbing and magnet equipment to move metals from pile to pile sorting and grading as they go through it. An inspector on the ground will also visually check and oversee the piles of scrap before the crane and bulldozer operators can move on. The reason for the process is to limit risks and also avoid doing serious damage to the recycling equipment from items and rubbish that cannot be reused.

The Recycling Process The scrap metal, including cars is placed on a conveyer belt that leads to the huge shredder. There is a drum designed to push the metal into the shredder. The belt is sensitive to the weight the metal places upon it. If it is heavy, it slows down to accommodate the amount. The shredder handles a lot of heavy materials. An inspector checks its state daily to ensure that no major damage has occurred. Though the shredder is strong and sturdy, it can still be damaged by some non-metal objects.

The metal fed into the machinery is cut into chunks through the mechanisms. The result is a mixture of metal and other wastes. The chunks are separated using a magnetic drum. The steel pieces will stick to the magnets while all the rest will pass and eventually get to another conveyor belt. The steel pieces are valuable and worth more free of non-metal contaminants so therefore it is necessary that any materials stuck to it be removed. Once this is done, the steel can be transported to the pertinent customers.

The remaining material on the belt needs to be sorted to get the nonferrous metal that is mixed with the waste. The system separates the valuable nonferrous metal by use of a magnets to create a strong repulsive force. The metal collected by this process includes copper and brass amongst others. This stage is usually repeated to ensure that nothing important is lost. An inspector also checks the trash pile to confirm that no wastage of metal happens.

Recycling scrap metal is a perfect way to get renewable resources for industries. Collecting and recycling scrap metal can be very lucrative for the collectors. Metal is a global commodity that is always in big demand. Developing countries such as China and India buy a huge amount of scrap and it is this demand that keeps scrap value high.

Check out the video to see the recycling process in action.


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