Electric cars have certain advantages over gasoline cars. Chief among them, electric cars don’t emit greenhouse gases. They also have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance. For example, there is no engine oil to change. But before we can transition to them, we have to solve problems with electric car charging infrastructure.
If we’re not careful, we can simply exchange one kind of bad environmental impact for another. Electric cars have their own potential environmental downsides. To begin with, electric car batteries require mining of minerals—not only lithium but cobalt, manganese, and nickel.
When it comes to electric car charging, will we develop infrastructure carefully, or will we rush into it and find we have created new problems?
While you might already recycle glass bottles and cardboard boxes, you may not consider scrap metal recycling. Even though taking it to a recycling facility can be very beneficial, many people are unaware they can do so.
The process of recycling scrap metal differs from your typical recycling process. If you want to recycle scrap metal, make sure there’s a facility in your area that will accept it. You will have to transport your scrap to the facility on your own, as it shouldn’t be included with your curbside recycling for pickup.
What is scrap metal recycling?
Scrap metal recycling basically turns old objects into something new. While it’s similar to the standard recycling process, it only involves materials like aluminum, iron, copper and brass. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, it provides over $116 billion to the economy of the U.S.
How does scrap metal recycling work?
Scrap collection is usually the only part of the process you’ll be involved in — although you may need to do the sorting yourself. Many recycling facilities will vary in what they accept. Make sure to look up the scrap yards in your area to find out what kind of metals they will take before you bring your collections to them. They may also require a minimum amount of scrap before they accept your collections.
Once you deliver your items to a recycling center, they will ensure that everything is properly sorted before they melt everything down. Then, they refine it and turn it back into solid metal. The exact form varies on what has been ordered from the scrap yard. Scrap metal can be refined into wire, bars, sheets, and more. Manufacturers will receive the finished product to work with as they please.
Remember to go to professionals instead of trying to melt or reuse scrap metal yourself. It’s a much safer option. Consider propane tanks, for example. They’re only recyclable after valve removal, which only an expert can do.
Why should you recycle scrap metal?
There are plenty of reasons you should recycle scrap metal. It can be beneficial to both you and the planet.
1. You can make money
Have you ever exchanged empty pop cans for some change? Scrap recycling is pretty similar, although it’s a bit more in-depth. If you take your materials to the right professional, they’ll give you money in return.
The price varies depending on the type of metal and it can fluctuate over time. For instance, aluminum currently brings in up to $0.50 per pound, while brass can reach up to $2.75 per pound. You can get more for rare or precious metals. You can essentially get paid for your time, making the process worth it.
2. You help manufacturers
Usually, manufacturers have to dig up, transport, melt and refine metal before using it. However, they get to cut that entire process in half when they reuse scrap. It makes production much more affordable and saves them a lot of time.
Plus, the recycling process creates essential work opportunities. In fact, it creates nearly two jobs and contributes almost $9,500 to the national economy for every one thousand tons that are recycled. You can help your local area and even the entire country with enough effort.
3. You save energy
While reuse efforts generally help the environment, scrap recycling has a particularly significant impact because so many people use these materials. For instance, recycling aluminum takes 80% less energy than producing it from scratch. Manufacturers only need to reuse the old stuff rather than extracting, melting and transporting new material.
On top of saving valuable resources, it’s much better for the environment. Less mining and shipping means fewer greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. It’s incredibly sustainable. The work you do to recycle scrap metal can make the planet cleaner.
4. You get more space
One of the best benefits is the free space you end up with. Do you have a rusted car sitting on your lawn or a collection of old cans in your garage? You can take everything from kitchen appliances to bathroom fixtures to a recycling center, meaning you get a ton of extra room on your property. Some scrap metal facilities will even arrange to pick up large objects for you, eliminating the need to rent a trailer or load heavy objects yourself.
5. You reduce pollution
Many metals leak toxic pollutants into the ground and waterways when they sit in landfills. This issue also impacts the average person’s health, considering they can develop cancer when they eat or drink from contaminated sources. Recycling scrap metal keeps it from affecting the planet, keeping the environment and people healthy.
What kinds of metals can you recycle?
Recycling centers split everything into ferrous or non-ferrous groups. The majority of scrap metal belongs to the first category. According to the Bureau of International Recycling, facilities have processed between 67 and 73 million metric tons of ferrous material from 2017 to 2021. While non-ferrous metals aren’t as common, they’re more valuable.
Here are some of the scrap metals you can recycle:
Brass: Brass is a heavy yellow metal. You’ll find it most often in light or bathroom fixtures.
Steel: Steel is usually silver but may look brown or red because of rust. It’s in a ton of items, so people recycle it often. In fact, the U.S. processed over 50 million metric tons in 2019 alone.
Copper: Copper is one of the more valuable scrap metals. It’s a shiny reddish-orange color. You’ll usually find it in air conditioning units, electronics or under the insulation in electrical wires.
Aluminum: Aluminum is lightweight and bright silver. You can find it in soda cans, food containers and windows. Saving up aluminum cans for a couple years is one of the easiest ways for the average person to recycle scrap metal.
Cast iron: Cast iron is heavy, dark and brittle. Old pans are the most standard source in most homes.
Precious metals: Although precious metals aren’t standard, you can usually find some in old jewelry or decorations. You’ll likely have gold or silver. They’ll usually fetch a high price.
You can test your materials if you don’t know what you have. For instance, magnets stick to all ferrous metalsbecause of their iron, so you could put one on your scrap and see if it stays. Also, you can look at its color, strength and weight to determine what it might be.
You may also have things that contain multiple types of metal. For example, electronics count as scrap metal since they often have various amounts of steel, aluminum or copper. You can always take your items to a testing center to figure out what they are.
As I mentioned, it’s very easy to recycle aluminum cans and earn a bit of cash for it. It’s not an immediate payout, but if you go through a lot of cans, consider saving them up for a few years and turning them in at a local scrap recycling center. Depending on the amount and the market price, you could collect a pretty substantial payout! I grew up doing this with my family and continue to recycle my cans in this manner today.
Recycling scrap metal helps you and the planet
Recycling scrap metal can make you money, help the local environment and improve your health. You don’t even have to go out of your way to collect things — you can simply take in what you already have lying around.
Author Bio: Ellie Gabel is a writer living in Raleigh, NC. She writes about environmental issues and how advancements in green technology are helping the planet. She also works as an associate editor for Revolutionized.
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