Metal Recycling

Metal has been widely recycled for many years for the principle reason that all metals have a value as they are a commodity which can and is freely traded across the globe. Metals fall into 2 distinct categories of ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals, ferrous metals being magnetic and non ferrous being non magnetic.

Iron and steel are the world's most recycled materials, and among the easiest materials to reprocess, as they can be separated magnetically from the waste stream. Recycling is via a steelworks: scrap is either re-melted in an electric arc furnace (90-100% scrap), or used as part of the charge in a Basic Oxygen Furnace (around 25% scrap). Any grade of steel can be recycled to top quality new metal, with no 'downgrading' from prime to lower quality materials as steel is recycled repeatedly. 42% of crude steel produced is recycled material.

Aluminium is one of the most efficient and widely-recycled materials. Aluminium is shredded and ground into small pieces or crushed into bales. These pieces or bales are melted in an aluminium smelter to produce molten aluminium. By this stage the recycled aluminium is indistinguishable from virgin aluminium and further processing is identical for both. This process does not produce any change in the metal, so aluminium can be recycled indefinitely.

Recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy cost of processing new aluminium. This is because the temperature necessary for melting recycled, nearly pure, aluminium is 600°C, while to extract mined aluminium from its ore requires 900°C. To reach this higher temperature, much more energy is needed, leading to the high environmental benefits of aluminium recycling.

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