Steel recycling involves the recycling and management of scrap steel, iron and steel manufacturing material, and slag (the remains of the making of steel.) Non-metal waste materials, like lead, copper, and glass, are also regularly recycled. Steel is basically an iron alloy, which means that it consists of a mixture of non-metal metals including lead, tin, and chromium. It’s important to note that not all steel is recyclable; steel that contains significant amounts of lead or tin is unsuitable for recycling; in fact, it can be harmful to the environment.
In addition, steel may not be appropriate for recycling because many scrap steel products include iron or steel that has already undergone processing to make other products. A good example of this is scrap steel that’s been mixed with cement and turned into flooring. The cement typically contains chromium or manganese, which tend to make steel unsuitable for recycling; these additives give the finished product a grayish color, so steel that’s been mixed with cement should be separated from the rest of the scrap. If you’re unsure whether a steel item you’re considering can be recycled, contact a steel recycling company to discuss the options available to you. Some scrap metal companies don’t accept pre-made steel products, so if your product qualifies, you’ll have to take it to a steel recycling facility yourself.
Structural steel recycling generally involves melting and reusing steel that’s been used in buildings and bridges in your community. You can separate scrap steel from decorative metal and industrial metal based on the different compositions. For instance, while structural steel is mostly made from iron and is therefore suitable for recycling, decorative metal is more predominantly comprised of copper, nickel, tin, and aluminum, with sometimes steel or cobalt mixed in. Before melting down the various components of structural steel, check with the structural steel recycler to see what types of recycled material they accept. You may be required to pay a minimal fee, or the material may not even be accepted at all.
Structural steel recycling in North America goes hand in hand with another practice that is becoming more popular in the US: metal spinning. Structural steel is first manufactured by turning the raw material, which can include steel bars, pipes, sheets, into circular shapes and then cutting it into appropriate sizes. While steel that is produced by this method does not necessarily contain recycled content, it does have a significantly lower recycling rate due to the nature of the process. This practice is often more expensive than traditional steel recycling, especially in light of the fact that it takes several days to complete a single spinning cycle.
The final type of steel recycling is iron ore recycling. You may have seen ads for companies that will take scrap steel and transform it into usable iron ore. In reality, this type of recycling is different from the other two. Iron ore is actually obtained from the furnaces that process the ore in the first place. The process of transforming the steel scraps into a form that can be used again begins with processing steel scraps and turning them into iron ore.
There are many benefits to steel recycling that contribute to environmental improvement, but the most prominent is the reduction in the amount of natural resources that are depleted through the process of manufacturing steel products. From an environmental standpoint, steel recycling allows steel producers to extract the natural properties from the raw materials they use, meaning that the resulting steel is stronger, lighter, and more durable than any alternative product would be. Because of the unique properties of steel, it has been able to provide the raw materials necessary to build massive skyscrapers and stadiums, while also contributing to the protection of the environment. Today, more countries and cities are beginning to take note of this fact, which makes it easier for steel producers to both recycle waste and increase the nation’s natural steel supply.