Scrap Metal – Where does it come from?


What is Scrap Metal?

As per the dictionary, the word scrap means leftovers from a greater part or pieces of equipment that can be reused and has monetary value. So scrap metal means the leftover metals from metallic objects, manufacturing processes, etc.

This scrap metal has a market price and often a license is required to sell scrap metal. The prices of the scrap metals are negotiated directly or over a medium by the buyers and the sellers as there is no fixed price for the scrap metals. When we refer to scrap metal, we refer to various kinds of metals like copper, iron, steel, etc. and each type of metal has a different price. The varying prices of the scrap metals are reported by various publications. The Steel Index also reports on the scrap metal prices, and this is making it very popular among the global market community. Scrapping metal is labor-intensive work, as separating metals from various other items are very important and this increase the value of the scrap metal. There are various methods used by recyclers to separate the different metals from each other. The use of a huge magnet is one such example. The magnet will attract steel and iron while leaving out copper, aluminum, and brass as they lack magnetic properties. These are sold at a higher value than iron and steel.

There are also various advantages of recycling scrap metals. The various advantages include saving 75% energy, 90% raw materials used, a reduction in air pollution by 86%, reduction in usage of water by 40%, 97% mining waste reduction and reduces water pollution by 76%. It is not only environmentally friendly but also poses less health hazard to human life as well. It also helps preserve the natural resources like iron ore, limestone, coal, etc. for every ton of steel made from scrap steel 1,115 kilogram of iron ore, 625 kilogram of coal and 53 kilograms of limestone are saved. This is huge saving just in case of steel. There are so many other metals where we can save our resources to a similar extent. This would lead to a cleaner and a better environment.

Where are the common sources of scrap metal?

Scrap metal is generated from both residential and commercial sectors due to high usage of metals in different items and products.

Industrial Scrap

The industrial sector is the biggest generator of scrap metals. Various processes take place in the industrial sector like cars manufacturing, appliances manufacturing, etc. These processes lead to the generation of scrap metal as a by-product of the manufacturing processes. There are industries like the repairs industries which also generate a lot of scrap through the process of repairing and replacement. The industrial sector also generates scrap metals while throwing away used goods and machinery which is taken apart and shredded in the scrap yards to generate scrap metals. Tons of industrial waste is generated after the completion of the different processes.

The construction industry is a huge producer of scrap metal. As old buildings are taken down and new ones have constructed the requirement of metal pipes, beams and structures become evident. This tearing down of old building generates a lot of scrap metals and during the construction of the new building many large and small pieces of metals go to waste, generating more scrap metals.

The discarded parts of the automobile and discarded cars are also a huge source of scrap metal. Human wants are endless and as the standard of living grows, so does the need for better facilities. A few years ago owning a vehicle was considered to be a luxury, but now that has become a necessity. With the increase in the production and selling of cars, there are also many cars that are discarded every day, or the parts of a car are replaced due to an accident or a malfunction. All these parts and cars end up at the scrap yard. They are taken apart and recycled or broken down into scrap metal.

Household Scrap

The residential sector is also a major contributor to scrap metal. Starting from household appliances, tools, etc. everything contains metal. Knowingly or unknowingly we many times throw away our broken down appliances and tools which contain many types of metals. There are also different items in our pantry that when thrown away will eventually generate scrap metal. Aluminum foils, steel cans, and many other containers are a good source of scrap metals.

Household appliances from the refrigerator to a can opener all contain metals and are easily recyclable and if not recyclable then can be taken apart to generate scrap metal. Electronics and e-waste are laced with toxic metals like lead, chromium, and cadmium which can contaminate the groundwater is used in the landfills and is best if taken apart and recycled as scrap. From bath ware to furniture to utensils, all of these household items contain high amounts of metal and are a complete waste, if used in the landfill rather than scrapped.

How can you recycle scrap metal?

The process of recycling scrap metal is not an easy task and sometimes may even be hazardous to health. The scrap and wastes are taken to the scrap yard or the junkyard or breaker’s yard. Here it is sorted and torn apart from other materials. Sometimes the scrap yards are equipped with a shredder that can efficiently breakdown almost any machine. Sometimes the scrap yards also sell large pieces of machinery intact without breaking it down further. They use a magnetic separator that can separate iron and steel from other metals. This makes the work a little easier. There are two types of recycling yards namely scrap yard and auto wrecker. At a scrap yard the metals are sold by weight and the price a smelter will give for the metals regardless of the properties or the shapes of the metals. On the other hand in an auto wrecker, the scrap would be sold on an item basis and taking into account the property and function of the scrap item.

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