How Are Metals Recycled? The Journey From Scrap to New Products

How Are Metals Recycled? The Journey From Scrap to New Products

In today’s world, sustainability and environmental conservation are at the forefront of our collective consciousness. The recycling of metals plays a pivotal role in helping out the planet. But have you ever wondered what happens to that old aluminum can or discarded copper wire once it leaves your hands? How are metals recycled? Let’s take a journey through the lifecycle of recycled metals, from scrap to new products.

Step 1: Collection and Sorting

The journey begins with the collection of scrap metals. This can happen through various channels—residential recycling programs, industrial waste collection, or direct drop-offs at recycling facilities. Some facilities even pay you for your scrap metal!

Metals are typically sorted into two main categories: ferrous (containing iron) and non-ferrous (not containing iron). Common ferrous metals include steel and iron, while non-ferrous metals include aluminum, copper, and brass.

Step 2: Shredding and Crushing

Once sorted, the metals are prepared for processing. This involves shredding or crushing the scrap into smaller pieces. Shredding makes it easier to handle and more efficient to melt down. For example, aluminum cans are shredded into small pieces to ensure they can be melted quickly with minimal energy consumption.

Step 3: Separation

After shredding, the next step is separating the metals from other materials. This process often involves a combination of magnets (to attract ferrous metals), air classifiers (to separate based on weight and size), and eddy current separators (to isolate non-ferrous metals). Advanced facilities may also use laser or infrared technology to further refine the separation process.

Step 4: Melting and Purification

The separated metals are then melted in large furnaces. Each type of metal has a specific melting point, so they are melted separately to ensure purity. 

During the melting process, impurities are removed to produce high-quality metal. For instance, aluminum melts at around 660°C (1220°F), while copper requires a higher temperature of about 1085°C (1985°F).

While this process does release some pollution, it is far less compared to the process of mining for new materials. 

Step 5: Forming and Casting

Once purified, the molten metal is poured into molds to form ingots, billets, or other shapes. These forms are then cooled and solidified, creating the raw material that manufacturers will use to produce new products. For example, aluminum ingots might be rolled into sheets that can be used to make new cans, while copper billets might be drawn into wires for electrical use.

Step 6: Manufacturing New Products

The final step in the journey is the transformation of these raw materials into new products. 

Recycled metals are used in a wide range of applications, while recycled steel can become new construction beams, car parts, or even appliances. Recycled aluminum is commonly used to make new cans, foil, and automotive parts. Finally, recycled copper often finds its way into electrical wiring and plumbing materials.

Reliable Recycling Pays You For Scrap Metal!

The journey of recycled metals from scrap to new products is a testament to the power of recycling in creating a sustainable future. By understanding this process, we can better appreciate the value of recycling and its positive impact on the environment. 

So next time you toss a can into the recycling bin, remember—you’re contributing to a cycle that transforms waste into valuable resources, helping to build a greener world for generations to come. At Reliable Recycling, we’re proud to be a part of this journey. If you have any scrap metal or electronic waste, bring it to us and be a part of the sustainable revolution. Even better, we offer cash for it!

Together, we can make a difference, one piece of scrap at a time. Call now to learn more.

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