Metal is used in many things that we see each day, like mobile phones and cars. Businesses generally use metal on a larger scale than individuals do. Since just about everything comes with an expiry date, products that are made with metal in them have to be either given away or sold as scrap once they have outlived their primary use. Instead of letting scrap metal go to waste, the better option would be to recycle it.
Types of Metal That Can Be Recycled
Metals have certain unique properties that make them ideal for recycling. However, not all types of metals can be recycled. Here is a quick recyclable materials list of those that are best suited for recycling:
- Steel – Even before metal recycling became popular with environmentalists, steel was being recycled. Recycling steel takes a fraction of energy that is relative to the recycling of other metals, and it does not lose its valuable properties after being recycled.
- Copper – Copper is a metal that is used in various applications, for example from wiring to plumbing, but its unique appearance makes it a good choice for decorative objects too. Copper is quite expensive but it is very easy to recycle and be reused in new applications.
- Aluminum – You will find aluminum in food cans, sheet metal, and cars. Recycling is a cheaper option to extracting new aluminum, and there is an abundance of aluminum scrap materials from households and businesses alike.
- Lead – Lead is a metal that is found, albeit in small quantities, in car batteries and specialized medical equipment. Lead can be harmful if released into nature and it is almost always mandatory to recycle this metal.
Benefits of Metal Recycling
There are several benefits of recycling metals, namely environmental, energy and economics. By understanding these 3 benefits, you will really begin to appreciate why you should include recycling metal as a part of your everyday life:
Producing metal is an elaborate process which involves the emission of a lot of poisonous gases. This is because metal is not available in its pure form in nature. When compared to extracting metal ores, recycling releases fewer gases into the atmosphere. When you recycle metal, you are reducing air pollution considerably.
This also means you are contributing to the general health of everybody who breathes the non-polluted air. If metal recycling is done by everybody, greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere can be cut down by almost 500 million tons.
Conservation of Energy
Other than gas emissions, the process of metal extraction consumes a lot of energy. It consumes precious natural minerals as well which are dwindling with each passing year. Using recycled metal allows industries that extract metals to do less of that. This in turn reduces the amount of energy they would use to obtain metal.
On the other end of the spectrum, extracting metal from recycled metal is a far simpler process. Recycled metal is already in its final form and does not need any extraction. It is sort of like getting ready to eat leftover pizza. The pizza is already prepared – you only need to heat it and your snack is ready!
To really understand how awesome metal recycling is, one needs to look at the bigger picture. For a long time now, our economy has been struggling to create jobs. For a given quantity of scrap metal, incineration would create a single job while recycling would create 35 times more employment.
To quote an example: if a ton of scrap metal could be burnt by ten individuals, it would take more than 350 workers to recycle the same amount of scrap metal. As things stand, the recycling industry is already generating more than $200 billion in revenue!