Let’s face it; we throw out valuable metal scraps without knowing how much money we could have earned from them.
While most of us try to recycle plastic items, clothes, and newspapers, we do not seem to give much thought to the metal scraps that we throw away. Now, metal recycling is a lesser-known concept.
Like most resources, metal ores are also finite in the earth’s reserves and are converted to their usable form after a lengthy process. By recycling metal scraps, we can reuse this resource multiple times, thus reducing the need for frequent mining.
Unfortunately, valuable metals like copper, iron, steel, etc., are thrown out due to a lack of awareness. Many scrap yards offer cash in exchange for scrap metals. Thus, you can save the earth from pollution while earning some extra cash in the process by deciding to sell off your metal scraps to the local vendor.
What Is Scrap Metal Recycling?
Metal recycling is the process of recovering and processing used or discarded metal bits so that they can be reused as raw material for making other essential products.
7 Valuable Scrap Metals
Whether you are redecorating, cleaning the garage, or demolishing an old building, you are bound to end up with a lot of metal scrap. If you are wondering which scrap metals would fetch you the maximum earrings, then look no further. This article enumerates seven metals that shall let you leave with pockets full if you decide to sell them to the local scrap yard.
Copper is arguably one of the most expensive scrap metals. This metal can be found in pipes, sinks, electrical wires, and certain fixtures.
If you renovate the home, you shall find quite a few copper scraps in the debris. Most scrap yard owners readily pay a handsome amount for copper bits.
This metal is known for its longevity. Brass can be found in daily-use items such as faucets and other plumbing components. The yellowish color of this metal imparts a gold-like glow.
Aluminum is used to manufacture various items, such as food packaging, soda cans, door and window frames, motor parts, and so on. While a single soda can shall not fetch you much, aluminum is worth something when exchanged for considerable qualities.
Due to its widespread availability, aluminum is one of the first choices among metal recycling enthusiasts. By selling aluminum scrap, you shall also do the environment some good since recycling this metal requires 95% less energy than extracting it from its ore. Thus, by recycling your soda can, you can help save enough energy to light a 60-watt bulb for over four hours.
In its pure form, lead is toxic. Hence, unadulterated lead is pretty rare. It is because of its scarcity that lead fetches a good value in the scrap metal market.
You can find lead in car batteries or old pipes as well. Antique lamp fixtures may also contain this metal.
Additionally, lead is usually found mixed with other metals, such as copper or brass. If you happen to come across pure lead, then make sure you take proper precautions while handling the same so as to avoid contaminating the home and surroundings.
By giving lead scrap to a vendor for recycling, you shall not only make good money but also rid your neighborhood of any toxic effects of this heavy metal.
5. Stainless Steel
Though the monetary value of this metal is not very large, it is available in abundance around us. It is used to manufacture all sorts of items – from retail products such as watches and door knobs and chairs to industrial comments such as heavy beams and railway bridges.
Many individuals sell off their old utensils made of steel in order to earn cash. However, such utensils are usually quite greasy or dirty, and items found in such bad shape are usually worth less. Therefore it is better to clean your steelware before taking it to the scrap yard to ensure that you obtain a good price for it.
Certain precious metals also earn a considerable value in the scrap market. We have listed a couple of them below for your reference.
This metal has always been appreciated for its exquisite beauty. It finds many usages for its malleability, resistance to corrosion, and high density, and platinum is extensively used for making jewelry.
However, this metal is also used in dental applications and weapon building and has numerous engineering applications. It is used for making high-end laboratory equipment, medical testing devices, fancy cigarette cases, and bar utensils. The automobile industry also uses this metal for making certain converters.
Platinum fetches a good price in the scrap market due to its rarity and durability.
This silver-toned metal has a high luster. Rhodium is extremely rare and hence is highly valued. The metal has a very high melting point and is extremely resistant to corrosion. It is often used for making jewelry, parts of searchlights, and mirrors.
How Are Metal Scraps Recycled?
The process of recycling scrap metal involves a few major steps:
Metal scraps are usually brought in by scrap collectors or from large scrap dealers. Public recycling services also contribute a significant amount of scrap. These include common household items such as cans, utensils, etc. When metal scraps first reach the yard, they are weighed in.
This is an extremely important step in the recycling process. Proper sorting is essential to maintain acceptable standards of quality and prevent contamination with other metals. Sometimes experienced scrappers tend to pre-sort some of their goods in order to fetch a better price.
Various methods are employed by scrapyard owners for sorting out the goods they receive. They often make use of spectrometers, electric currents, and high-power magnets. Sometimes visual identification is also made to separate scrap metals.
3. Cutting Up The Metal To The Desired Size
To facilitate the melting process, cutting the metal bits into the desired size is necessary. That way, energy is conserved during the melting process. The scrapyard usually shreds, torches, or rolls up the metal bits into balls as per the requirements of their next customers – usually smelters.
4. Melting And Refining Process
The melting process is unique to the metal at hand since different metals have different melting points. After melting, the impurities in a metal rise to the top and thus can be separated easily. Some metals require additional refinement, like electrolysis.
Often, the recycled metal is used along with virgin metal (mined out of the ground) for manufacturing processes.
The melted metal is then cast into usable metal components such as wires, coils, bars, or sheets. After solidification, the metal can be reused for the manufacturing process.
The solidified metal components are then sent to various manufacturing units for usage in construction projects, the automobile and aerospace industry, or the production of consumer goods.
Why Is Scrap Metal Recycling Important?
1. Reduction In Mining
It is common knowledge that mining is a labor and energy-intensive process. Extracting raw materials from the earth requires the usage of heavy machinery like excavators, trucks, and a lot of manpower. It also needs a huge expenditure and causes immense air and water pollution.
That is not all; mining often causes severe environmental damage, such as the formation of sinkholes, groundwater contamination, and destruction of wildlife habitat.
Now, you should know that metals can be recycled an infinite number of times to reduce the efforts and cost acquired for mining. By recycling one ton of steel, we can prevent the mining of 2500 pounds of iron ore, 120 pounds of limestone, and 1400 pounds of coal. This, in turn, saves mother earth from the avoidable effects of excessive mining.
2. Save The Earth From Pollution
The garbage we throw out often ends up in landfills, or some portion reaches the oceans. These metals can spread harmful chemicals into the soil that are detrimental to crops growing on that land. Thus, the accumulation of metal scraps makes the soil infertile over the years. It also pollutes the sea water and renders it inhabitable for aquatic life.
Moreover, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has estimated that greenhouse emissions can be reduced by 300 to 500 million by recycling metals. According to the Northeast Recycling Council, recycling of steel causes a reduction of 86% in air pollution and 76% in water pollution and consumes 40% less water in the overall process.
3. Contribute To The World Economy
The recycling industry employs a huge workforce. Over a million workers are involved in this job in the US alone. The scrap metal industry generates a whopping $236 billion annually. Research has proven that recycling scrap metals creates 36 times more jobs than incinerating the same.
Hence, by choosing not to discard your scrap metal and instead selling it at a scrap yard, you may be creating employment for an individual somewhere on the globe.
4. Make A Few Extra Bucks
Metals fetch a good value in the scrap industry. By selling any metal pieces you have, you can hope to earn a bit of extra cash.
How To Start Collecting And Recycling Scrap?
If you have not been recycling metals, then it is high time you start doing so. It is alright to start small and as you gain expertise, go on to bigger recycling projects.
1. Start Small
Check if any discarded utensils, electrical wires, or sanitary fittings are lying around your house. Broken appliances such as air conditioners, freezers, and washing machines have lots of metal components that can be sold to earn a decent amount. Start by disassembling them to check for any valuable metals.
2. Clean Your Scrap
Most scrapyards pay a few extra bucks for clean metal bits. This reduces their efforts in preparing the metal for melting. For example, copper wiring removed from its insulating cover is worth more in the scrap market than wires with the jacket on. Clean steel utensils fetch more money than greasy ones.
Sorting the metal pieces according to purity or grade is also a good option. By going this extra mile, you can earn a lot more.
3. Look A Bit Further
After going through the house, you can also visit the office of the maintenance officer of your locality. It is a good idea to check if they have some scrap metal that needs disposal. Local businesses are also a good place to look for scrap. Often, broken shopping carts and out-of-order computers contain valuable metal components that can be sold.
Construction sites often produce a lot of metal bits. Get in touch with the construction company to procure such scrap and sell it to the local scrapyard for a few quick bucks.
4. Keep A List Of Local Scrap Yards Handy
Knowing the exact location of the scrap yards near you is essential. Choose the ones that are closer to home to save money on transportation costs. Certain mobile applications can be used to locate scrap dealers.
Some yards have set a minimum quantity below which they refuse to buy metals. Try to call up the yards you wish to visit beforehand to know about any such restrictions.
Metal recycling can be pursued as a hobby, a part-time activity, or even a full-fledged job. It is important to remember that by recycling, you are cleaning the earth of impurities, creating jobs, and also filling your pockets.
If you intend to start a recycling business, then it is essential that you know a thing or two about the kinds of metals, their prices, sorting mechanisms, etc. You may also register yourself in one of the many metal recycling trade associations to understand the latest trends in this industry.
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