What Happens to Recycled Metal
In the age of environmental change and public acceptance of the need to recycle, it’s become commonplace for people to ethically disposing of their household waste. Whilst we might be more informed about recycled rubber becoming car tyres, plastic becomes drinks bottles and newspapers becoming re-constituted cardboard; tracing the path of recycled metal is a lesser known journey. With such a wide variety of metal used in the domestic environment, it’s hard to believe that food cans and tin foil can be all be thrown to the same pot. The list of what they can grow to become is just as impressive too.
When recycling trucks collect household metal, it’s taken to a complex and modern processing plant. Passing through a number of filters which use cameras, chemicals, lasers, magnets and a myriad of other detections; the metal is separated into different materials. Streams of aluminium go to different sections of the plant than iron, brass, tin and other metals.
These individual metals are then melted down into their respective smelting pots and are ready to be pressed and prodded to become new items! Most will be smelted to become ingots, which can then be melted and treated at metal plants around the country.
The process can take as little as six weeks from your curb side recycling bin to the shelves of the supermarket. Whether it becomes a new tin of baked beans or the wing of a speedboat; metal can be recycled with incredible quality and speed. Whereas recycled paper and card will lose its quality as it has to be ‘pulped,’ metal can be recycled hundreds of times and will never lose its properties.
Steel is actually the most recycled material in the world, with almost all modern steel coming from recycled metal. With a thin coating of tin, steel is what makes our food and drinks cans so it’s understandable that metal recycling is an $8billion a year industry in the States!
Recycling metal saves hundreds of millions of pounds every year. Removing a lot of the manufacturing, transport, mining and logistics costs from the cycle not only saves money; but also helps reduce the impact of environmental change. Consider how much pollution a huge container ship will chug out on its journey across the Atlantic Ocean. With modern technology making the most common metals 100% recyclable, there’s no reason why these expensive and harmful processes have to continue.