Recycling of scrap metal: How to recycle

Scrap Metal

How to recycle scrap metal

In this guide, we will be covering the recycling of scrap metal, and the process of how it is done.

Scrap metal includes any metal-based material that is recyclable. Most scrap metal pieces are the leftover components of manufacturing. For example, some common sources include building supplies, parts of vehicles and small pieces leftover from cutting metal sheets. It also includes old household accessories or appliances that have copper, brass, iron, steel or another metal with value.

Today, you can recycle scrap metal and possibly earn money for it. In this guide, we will help you understand more about scrap metal and where to recycle it.

United States Scrap Metal Statistics

Although the volume of scrap metal processing has dropped over the last 10 years, it is still significant. These are some key statistics from Statista about scrap metal between 2006 and 2019:

  • The amount of iron and steel produced from household scrap dropped from 12 million metric tons in 2006 to 5.8 metric tons in 2019.

  • Although scrap steel and iron exports from the United States dropped between 2011 and 2015, they rose from 13 million metric tons in 2016 to 18 million metric tons in 2019.

  • Rising for a few years and dropping after 2018, scrap iron and steel prices were $266 per metric ton in 2019.

The Scrap Metal Market

To better understand the volume of scrap metal produced and used in the United States, it helps to know more about the market. These are some recent scrap metal market statistics from IBISWorld:

  • Between 2015 and 2020, the scrap metal market declined an average of 3.6% per year.
  • By 2020, the scrap metal market was worth $26.3 billion.
  • The scrap metal market growth rate for 2020 was -7%.

In their report, IBISWorld also noted that the scrap metal market declined quicker than the technology sector. The technology sector is closely related since it uses a lot of metal. Some of the factors that affect the scrap metal market growth are high entry barriers and the price of nonferrous metals.

Nonferrous metals are copper and aluminum, which are among the top three most common recycled metals in the industry. When demand drives up the prices of these metals, industry revenue increases. If prices and demand are low, industry revenue decreases.

Despite the growth of the market decreasing for 2020, experts predict that the price of nonferrous metals will rise. Scrap metal recycling also contributes to job growth and economic growth.

In 2017, the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries performed economic impact research and wrote a report on their findings. They found that 534,506 women and men held jobs in the scrap metal recycling industry that year.

The United States Geological Survey collects detailed information every month about scrap metals. These detailed reports are especially useful to individuals or businesses that sell or buy scrap metal.

Environmental Impact

Like every industry and process, there is still some environmental impact. However, recycling scrap metal helps the environment by keeping larger volumes of these metals out of landfills or waste management plants. Also, recycling requires less energy consumption.

With ore mining, miners use a lot of chemicals. Scrap metal recycling helps reduce the need for this toxic process. Also, it helps reduce the amount of toxins in the nearby water supply that come from ore mining processes.

Mining metals to create virgin metal products requires fossil fuels. With recycling, there is less of a need for higher amounts of fossil fuels. Since fossil fuels also produce greenhouse gases, recycling scrap metal reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency is careful about scrap metal classification. Because unprocessed scrap metal is valuable, the EPA treats many products like commodities instead of solid waste.

ISRI has guides for defining solid waste in recyclable materials. However, the easiest way to find this information and answers about ways to recycle scrap metal is to contact a nearby processing or collection site.

Where and How To Recycle Scrap Metal

Scrap metal collection, recycling and processing sites may pay you for scrap metal. Some collection and recycling sites sell metal to processors. A processing site cleans, renders and processes the scrap to turn into recycled metal products that it can sell to manufacturers.

People have different reasons for getting rid of their products with scrap metal. For example, you may simply want to be environmentally conscious and do not care about compensation.

Perhaps your goal is to earn money from your scrap metal. There are resources for both sets of needs, and bigger cities tend to have more options. These are some of the top sites for finding nearby scrap metal recycling services:

  • Earth911 offers a tool to find nearby services based on zip code.

  • Recycling Center Near Me features a drop-down menu to search for local scrap recycling centers based on certain types of metals.

  • SA Recycling has many locations, accepts scrap metal and pays cash based on current prices.

  • 1800GotJunk offers free pickup and removal of most types of scrap metal and junk metal.

To use the above sources, follow the prompts on the sites to see if there are services available in your area. The results typically display an address, and there may be a contact phone number if one is available. Most recycling centers can answer location-specific information about how to recycle scrap metal and current compensation rates.

Check your local area

Also, try searching for local services. Some cities or counties have their own recycling centers that may accept scrap donations or pay cash for scrap metal.

There are also individuals or collection sites that may pay privately for scrap metal in some areas. Some may even offer to pick up the scrap metal and still pay cash, and others may only pick up donations. Today, there are many people and businesses that offer to pay cash for and pick up junk cars because of the scrap metal in them.

There are some scrap metal centers that work across wider geographic areas in rural places. For example, Advantage Recycling serves several rural areas in Missouri and Kansas. To find additional services for recycling of scrap metal, search for “scrap metal recycling near me.”

Additionally, here is another one we did on aluminum.

Leave a comment below if you think we missed something!

3 thoughts on “Recycling of scrap metal: How to recycle”

  1. I will always like the fact that scrap metal recycling can have very noticeable effects on the environment in the long run. I have a lot of scrap parts in my workshop at home because I’ve been studying about the different methods of welding these past few months. Perhaps I should start sorting out my scrap metal in order to make it easier to send them to a recycling plant later on.

  2. Thanks for pointing out that non-ferrous metals can are very valuable when it comes to scrap metal recycling. I’m interested in looking for a facility near me because I will be having a huge home renovation soon. I’m sure that among the junk that will be produced from that, some scrap metal could be recycled.

  3. I find it amazing that you could reuse old metal for future use in appliances or vehicles by recycling scrap metal. My uncle has a couple of old and unusable vehicles around his lawn. Maybe he should send them to a scrap metal expert around his area!

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