Almost every sector uses recycled metal, including manufacturing, transportation, and construction. More and more industries are starting to use recycled metal, especially since it has become much more accessible than it used to be.
Businesses are starting to take advantage of the versatility of this resource to help cut costs, increase their environmental impact, or both! In fact, NERC estimates that air and water pollution can be reduced by 86 percent and 76 percent, respectively, just by using recycled steel.
If you’re in the market for recycled metal, it’s good to know the best options, especially if you’re looking for something specific, like aluminum or stainless steel. Here are some of the most common and popular uses of recycled metal in industries of all sizes. If you’re curious about what kinds of uses there are for recycled metal across industries of all sizes, read on!
What Is Recyclable?
Almost all metals can be recycled. But iron and steel make up the majority of the scrap. Most of these items originate in urban regions with heavy industry and household garbage.
Usually, recyclable metals are divided into ferrous and non-ferrous. Non-ferrous metals include, among others, aluminum, lead, tin, copper, gold, and silver. Cast iron, carbon steel, and mild steel are a few examples of ferrous metals. Typically, ferrous metals can be found in automobiles, kitchen equipment, and refrigerators.
You might be curious about the advantages of recycling metal and why it’s such a good idea. Aluminum, brass, cast iron, steel, and copper are just a few examples of metals that can be recycled to keep them out of landfills. This is advantageous because the capacity of our landfills, which is almost full, is rapidly declining globally.
It lessens the release of dangerous greenhouse gases and poisons into the environment and atmosphere by diverting garbage from landfills. After all, it takes between 50 and 500 years for metals to disintegrate or biodegrade. This indicates that for that length of time, they could be seriously harming our world.
Are you still not convinced? Natural ore mining is substantially less economically and commercially viable than recycling metal. By lowering the cost of recycled materials, it works to benefit consumers and create jobs.
Saving Energy by Recycling
In the US, scrap metal recycling totals 150 million metric tons annually, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. One of the simplest recyclables is scrap metal because it can be recycled and turned into new materials, saving energy and the money needed to refine new metals.
To further illustrate this point, let’s take a closer look at one of the items that is recycled the most frequently—an item that we are all familiar with—a can of aluminum. One of the most iconic pieces of metal may be readily recycled and can save a ton of energy.
It is commonly found in American refrigerators, garbage cans, landfills, and recycling bins. Recycling one aluminum can save energy equivalent to 20 hours of light bulb use or 3 hours of computer use, according to EPA.
Despite this net positive energy, only 34.9% of aluminum cans were recycled in 2015, and 2.4 million cans were thrown into landfills. A significant loss in recycling scrap metal and energy savings. According to the EPA, aluminum recycling requires only 5% of the energy it took to make it in the first place. 2.4 million cans wasted represents a significant and regrettable energy loss. In essence, you would be wasting 2 million hours of light in your home and 7.2 million hours of computer power.
Best Uses for Recycled Metal Across Industries of All Sizes
Let’s now examine the use of recycled metals and items made entirely or partly from recycled metal in various industries.
1. Transport Industry
In the transportation sector, recycled metals are frequently used in the construction of railroad lines and roadways. Because it is tough and heat resistant, recycled steel is used to make train rails.
Additionally, automobiles are the most highly recyclable metal objects. Since millions of cars reach the point of no longer being useful each year, recycling as many cars as possible is necessary. Fortunately, more cars are being recycled than ever, thanks to growing awareness of the value of scrap. Today, most car bodies on the road are constructed from recycled metal.
Many airplanes, in addition to cars, use recycled metal in their bodywork. Due to its lightweight qualities, aluminum is frequently used in aircraft construction instead of steel, which is frequently recycled in automobiles. Reusing scrap metal includes recycling airplanes, a vital but often overlooked component. In storage around the world are more than 5000 commercial aircraft, all of which are highly recyclable.
Recycle-More estimates that 75% of all aluminum produced is still used for beneficial purposes. A significant portion of recycled metals comes from tin cans composed of aluminum, and some of this material is used in lightweight airplanes.
It is important to recycle and live sustainably because it takes roughly the same amount of energy to produce one aluminum drink can from raw materials as it does to recycle 20.
Art is one of the most popular ways in which recycled metal is used. Artists create sculptures, wall art, and other pieces using found metals like steel and aluminum. The natural beauty of these materials makes them perfect for artistic creations.
Artists favor more recyclable materials as people’s awareness of environmental impact grows, increasing consumer demand for recycled art. Scrap metal is a very environmentally friendly medium for artists to work with because it doesn’t require producing new materials to create the pieces. Additionally, all of the components can be recycled once more.
The variety of shapes that may be salvaged from scrap metal, such as old bicycle chains and gutter pipes, lend themselves incredibly well to creating works of art. Animals, insects, and plants are common subjects for scrap sculpture, which creates an amazing contrast between the subject being portrayed and the industrial appearance of the materials.
Plus, artists often use scrap metal because it’s cheaper than buying new materials. And when they’re finished with their creations, they’re usually donated to museums or auctioned off to raise money for charity.
Currently, scrap metal pieces may fetch hundreds of pounds, making sculpting and scrap art quite profitable, as evidenced by these lovely items sold on Etsy. In 2020, 40.2 million Americans used six or more cans of air freshening spray and room deodorizers, according to Statista.
3. Health Industry
Scrap metal is a key component in manufacturing metal braces and other medical devices. These orthopedic supplies are made from steel supply, with recyclers providing recycled steel for the process. Metals such as copper, aluminum, iron, stainless steel, and lead are used to produce metals such as brass and bronze that will be transformed into brace components.
Scrap metal can also be used to create non-medical grade alloys. Iron, steel, and copper are all viable alternatives for building nursing home assitance devices. Nonprofit organizations that focus on patient care, such as hospices and end-of-life facilities, often use recycled steel for their durable construction needs. Nurses at nursing homes might need it to replace aging appliances with stainless steel countertops.
Scrap metal can be used in roofing and flooring projects. Bail is a type of plating used in these applications. It is often made from recycled metals such as copper, aluminum or steel. The bails on homes and other buildings are what supports everything else that makes up a roof or flooring system.
Recycled metal can also be used to make steel braces. Steel supply braces are used in the construction process and are installed on the inside or outside of buildings before they are built. Flooring companies can use recycled metal as a way to prop up the flooring while it is being installed. Bail companies also use this material for their wire mesh screens that keep people from climbing out of windows.
Food and beverage cans are among the items made from scrap metal that are recycled the most. Numerous items, including canned tomatoes and fizzy drinks, are stored in aluminum containers. Yes, the same aluminum that might be found in a fighter plane also has a good chance of protecting your baked beans.
Recycled energy savings are one of the biggest advantages of using recycled aluminum for food and beverage packaging. The amount of energy needed to produce cans using this metal is 95% less than it would otherwise be!
6. Home Furnishings
These days, a lot of the metal furniture in your home is created from recycled materials. Different metals can be melted, molded, and reused just like new ones. Metal has the strength and durability to be used virtually endlessly, which is a huge advantage.
Scrap metal furniture and decor are becoming increasingly common, making striking and memorable items. Some of the most fascinating examples of recycled metal furniture are table tops constructed from large clock faces, seats made from automobile bonnets, and chests refashioned from airplane doors.
7. Metallurgical Industry
Metal is also used in metallurgy or the science and technology of making metals from scrap metal. Small metal scraps are melted down for this purpose, and new materials like coal or air are added to create the final product. More often than not, this process is used on steel.
To recycle the metal in metallurgy, steel companies buy old metal scraps from other companies, like car manufacturers. The steel supply is then melted down to create new steel sheets. These sheets can be used to make various products, such as steel panels in solar roofs. Steel braces are often made with steel that has been recycled at least three times.
Metallurgists use different types of steel depending on what they are trying to make, which means there are many options for recycling metals in metallurgy. One way businesses or homeowners can reuse their scrap metal is by donating it to recycling facilities that manufacture things like window frames or flooring tiles.
For instance, a steel company can buy steel and rebar scrap from contractors who renovate homes. The business can then recycle them into galvanized steel framing supplies that contractors need to build more homes. There’s no limit to how much material a recycling facility can accept because the raw material can be sold to any number of industries or countries.
As long as there’s demand for metals, we will always need to recycle the metal in metallurgy.
- Steel supply can also help a propane company make steel tanks for transporting fuel around the country.
- Companies are using recycled metals to produce pesticide containers, copper coils and aluminum drums used by exterminators to get rid of bugs.
- Steel companies use recycled metal to create electromagnetic shields that prevent interference in wireless communications. These could be used as steel storage containers for wireless communication hardware, making them ideal for telecommunications companies.
- Scrap metal is used in plumbing devices for various purposes. The steel supply can be used to make metal supporting the sewer system.
However, recycling metals has inherent risks from collection to the processing point. For instance, there are inherent risks of injury from cuts, especially with metal sheets. For this reason, you should have workers’ worker’s protection insurance coverage to cater for hospital bills in case of injury. However, some companies might be reluctant to cover workers or compensate them in case of an accident. In this case, you should hire a defense lawyer to ensure you get fair compensation.
Many significant businesses rely on recycled metals as the source of raw materials for manufacturing, since metals may be recycled. And to ensure that stays the case, we must all put in a lot of effort.
There is a growing need for more industrial scrap metal recycling as consumer demand for new items rises. Consumers and businesses should bring their used scraps to reputable companies undertaking ecologically friendly processing and recycling of all base and precious metals.