Countless tonnes of Metal are recycled each year in the UK alone, generating billions of pounds in revenue. Just over half the recycled metal is exported to meet foreign demand and the rest is reprocessed within the UK to make more metal. Metal is an exceptionally useful and versatile material that is used to make many items in every day use including cars, trucks, ships, aeroplanes, household appliances, railway tracks, cutlery, ovens not to mention it is also used for packaging.
One major advantage in recycling metal is that it may be recycled over and over again without losing any of the properties of the metal itself. Metal is therefore a valuable commodity and thus, when a metal item reaches the end of its life, it can be used 100% of times to make new metal. The most typical metals in every day household use today are Steel and Aluminum – Steel is used to make food cans and Aluminum is used to produce soft drink cans.
You can tell the difference between Steel and Aluminum using a magnet because Steel will stay glued to a magnetic whereas Aluminum will not. This makes the sorting of various types of metal at recycling depots much easier as opposed to say plastic recycling where sorting is a far more complex practice. When recycling metal, it is divided into Ferrous and nonferrous metals.
Recycling Ferrous Metal
Ferrous scrap metal is metal from Steel and Iron and this includes food cans, scrap metal from cars and household appliances etc . In line with the British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA), over four and half million tonnes of Iron and Steel scrap metal was supplied to Steelworks in the UK in 2005 to make new Steel and over 6 million tones were exported. Ferrous scrap metal is in demand and growth has increased by approximately 5% each year for the past decade.
Recycling Non Ferrous Metal
non-ferrous scrap metal is waste from metals such as Aluminum, (so includes drinks cans, foil milk bottle tops, foil wrappers, baking trays, kitchen foil etc . ) as well as Copper, and other metals such as for instance Nickel, Brass, Titanium, Lead and Chromium etc . Less non ferrous metal waste is available but it is more profitable than Ferrous Metal. According to BMRA, in 2005, over a million tonnes of non ferrous metal was processed and not exactly half of this was Aluminum followed closely by Copper and then the other metals. Over 800, 000 tonnes was exported representing a growth of 20% on 2004 figures.
Recycling metal in the home
The most common household waste metal items generated are food and drinks cans. Recycling these cans is quite easy. After the cans are collected they are separated into Steel and Aluminum cans. Steel cans are melted down and the impurities (slag) are removed and will often be recycled back into the construction industry. The remaining pure metal is made into ingots or blocks of steel, which could then be used to make more cans and other products.
Aluminum cans are compressed and melted down, impurities are removed and again, the Aluminum is made into ingots which can then be rolled into Aluminum sheets before being turned into new cans or other products. This whole process is quite rapid and an Aluminum can is often back on a supermarket shelf in as low as 6 weeks.
Most local authorities now provide a way to dispose of empty cans either by roadside collection or at a recycling depot so make use of these facilities and encourage others to complete the same as in this way you can help protect the environment and save your self energy.