Recycling metals is an essential part of conserving precious resources and cutting back on pollution. Metals are used in everything from soda cans to metal buildings and is expected to grow exponentially in the next 10 years. Almost every type metal can be recycled, and many metals are quite valuable. Every metal has a separate recycling process, and recycling metal has an extremely significant impact on the environment.
Recycling metals in extremely efficient. Steel, one of the most commonly recycled materials, saves a tremendous amount of energy annually by being recycled. Energy is conserved fourfold versus the traditional process of making steel from virgin ore. This results in massive energy conservation and massive quantities of cars, bridges, and other construction materials being created out of recycled steel.
Steel is North America’s most recycled material, beating out even paper and clocking in at 1,210,250 tons annually. Recycled steel is an essential material in the creation of new steel. In addition to being economically sound, recycling steel leads to vast cuts in CO2 emissions associated with the creation of steel. Energy is vastly reduced, and the life cycle of steel is elongated.
Recycling steel is such an integrated part of the steel market, when one buys steel in North America they are buying recycled steel. While many cities sport local steel recycling, larger appliances and cars might need to be taken to a local steel-recycling center. The United States is home to over 35,000 steel recycling options from city and county recycling centers
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Copper is an extremely valuable metal that is often recycled. Often used in plumbing and electrical projects, copper is the third leading metal produced globally. Copper’s high resale value means its recycling value is very high. Copper, unlike other metals, is usually found in a pure, undiluted form. This means recycling copper is even more important as the majority of copper comes from recycled copper.
Copper is often “sold” to a refinery, instead of being “recycled,” because copper has such a high value. It has been estimated that between 80 and 85 percent of copper is recycled. Recycling copper is extremely effective as it can be recycled with no loss of quality. Due to copper not losing any quality when recycled, many considered copper to be a “renewable” resource and an extremely environmentally friendly resource.
Recycling copper can be done at a number of scrap collections systems spread across the United States. While recycling carbon, one will receive significant compensation for the copper they have donated. Recycling copper is an important way of stimulating the economy and efficiently using resources. In addition, it cuts back on pollution associated with creating new copper and results in a more efficient preservation of copper.
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Aluminum recycling is an extremely economically and environmentally sound practice. Recycled scrap aluminum is melted down and made into new aluminum, an extremely straightforward process that reduces metal waste. In addition, the process takes roughly 5 percent of the energy needed to traditionally craft aluminum out of bauxite ore.
Aluminum faces no decrease in quality when recycled. For this reason, aluminum is one of the few “infinitely recyclable” materials. Due to its efficient and economically friendly process of recycling, it is estimated that 75 percent of all aluminum produce since 1988 is still around today.
Recycling aluminum has large, positive benefits on the environment. Energy usage is reduced by almost 95 percent when aluminum is recycled, and significant cuts in carbon dioxide emissions are also present. In addition, recycling aluminum is very economically sound due to the cheaper process involved in creating new aluminum out of recycled aluminum rather than out of tradition ore.
Aluminum is one of the easiest and most abundant metals to recycle. Aluminum cans are recycled in the 100’s of billions annually, and local pick up recycling is available for recycling aluminum. Larger sets of aluminum can easily be recycled at one of many US recycling centers or a local city or county recycling center. Recycled aluminum is used in a host of different appliances and applications. Aircraft, automobiles, wire, boats, and cookware all benefit from recycled aluminum. Significant cost savings and environmental benefits result from the process of recycling aluminum, and large reductions occur is waste output.
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Recycling lead is an important part of conserving resources and cutting back on pollution. The majority of lead is used in batteries, which can easily be recycled. Lead is virtually indestructible and is easily and effectively recycled. Lead can be recycled without any loss in quality, effectively creating a “renewable” resource. Recycling lead is extremely efficient. The energy output and carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 300 percent when making lead out of recycled lead compared to making lead out of ore. Due to lead’s almost indestructible nature and the economic and environmental benefits of recycling lead, it boasts the highest recycling rate of any material throughout the world.
Recycling lead is as simple as finding a local recycling center. Local recycling centers accept lead of all sorts, and many recycling centers are available to collect scrap lead. For extremely large lead based batteries, finding an actual lead recycling plant is the best option.
Mercury, a volatile and dangerous metal, can also be recycled. While mercury use is declining due to its dangerous properties, recycling mercury has tremendous benefits for the environment. While some mercury in particular forms of must be disposed of by landfill, the majority of mercury can be recycled. The recycling process for mercury is much more complex than the process for an average metal; it must be subjected to a multi-step heat intensive process that eventually produces mercury ready for sale.
Mercury recycling, while extremely beneficial to the environment, is not as efficient as the recycling of other metals. The efficiency of mercury recycling is estimated to be 62 percent, significantly behind the recycling efficiency rate of other metals. Despite this shortcoming, recycling mercury results in tremendous benefits for the environment. Finding a mercury recycling plant is extremely difficult and the actual recycling of mercury is normally only carried out for large industrial loads.
Recycling metal alloys is extremely simple. Almost all metal alloys are recyclable, and the actual process of recycling alloys is straightforward. All recycling centers accept metal alloys, and some alloys, particularly brass, are valuable. Recycling alloys in normally extremely efficient and reduces carbon dioxide and energy emissions related to the mining and purification of metals.
Recycling metals is an economically and environmentally beneficial activity that results in a more efficient use of resources. Metal made from recycled scrap metal is significantly cheaper than its mined and processed counterparts. Recycling metal is an important step in helping the environment and guaranteeing metal prices remain low. Over 35,000 processing and recycling plants accept metals of all sorts for recycling across the country, ensuring a recycling metal is always an option for all.
You may also be interested in our recycling infographic - see it here
Author: Conrad Mackie