How is Scrap Metal Recycled?

If you’re wondering what happens to your scrap metal once it goes to recycling, you’re not alone. It’s a common question that we frequently answer at Junk 4 Good. Several methods and facilities are available to recycle scrap metal; however, the steps are typically similar.

Scrap Metal Recycling Pick-Up & Collection

The first step to recycling scrap metal is getting it to the metal recycling yard. This may mean arranging to have your scrap metal picked up by a junk removal hauler or dropping it off at the scrap yard yourself if you can and desire to transport it yourself. Alternatively,  you can transport your scrap metals to a local transfer station or landfill that offers metal collections.

Sorting Scrap Metal

The next most important step is to sort the scrap metal by its composition, ferrous and non-ferrous. Common metal types may be steel, aluminum, copper, brass, stainless steel, zinc, nickel, etc. Sorting the metals is a critical step as the process of recycling scrap metal may vary depending on the metal type. Some metals may be collected and sold to other processors, sometimes overseas. Others will be collected, processed and recycled locally.

Scrap Metal Processing

Once sorted, each type of metal will be sent for its specific processing. Steel is the highest volume and most common metal that scrap yards will process daily. When ready, steel will often be compacted or shredded to reduce its size. Many scrap yards will use large industrial balers to crush and squeeze metal into compact cubes. With this, the scrap yard can pick up and move extremely dense blocks of steel with their heavy equipment. Other scrap yards will utilize industrial metal shredders. These are like a paper shredder on steroids, with blades and teeth large enough to cut through thick steel. This process will make it possible to move smaller pieces of steel, often using conveyor belts to their next location. 

Shredding is also a great option when processing materials that aren’t 100% metal; think of a car or a household appliance. These items will often be made of metals, plastics, glass and fabrics. When shredding, it’s possible to not only reduce the overall size of these items but also to magnetically separate the steel away from the other materials, leaving a much more pure product for recycling.

Scrap Metal Transportation

Once the processing and packaging have been completed, the materials must be transported to the final recycling location. Sometimes this may be a local facility or another factory within the same province. Other times, these items may be shipped overseas for new manufacturing. When steel is recycled in Edmonton, the products are often loaded onto a train car or semi-trailer, and then relocated to the metal foundry. At the foundry, these compacted cubes or the shredded steel will be loaded into vats, heated up and melted down into molten steel, then re-formed into new steel products.

Old washers and dryers for scrap metal recycling

What to do with scrap metal?

Creating scrap metal is nearly inevitable. Since many products we use every day are made with metal, what can you do with the scrap metal? We will highlight a few options below.

DIY scrap metal hauling

The lowest-cost scrap metal hauling option is to do it yourself.

 Most facilities are open to residents and are located throughout the city. The biggest challenge with the DIY route is safely transporting the scrap metal in your vehicle and the potential hazards of carrying, loading and unloading the items. As scrap ages, it can rust and corrode; depending on the condition at the time of removal, it may have sharp and dangerous edges. 

Always take appropriate precautions to protect yourself and your property from injury or damage when handling scrap. Using proper personal protective equipment and utilizing safe lifting techniques is extremely important.

Call Junk 4 Good for scrap metal recycling

If you’re looking for a hand-off, stress-free and convenient experience, Junk 4 Good is your best option for scrap metal pickup! With one call or just a few clicks online, you can arrange for our junk removal team to arrive and safely remove and recycle any scrap metal you may have. Our teams are trained in safely removing, loading, transporting, and sorting scrap metal for recycling. Allow our staff to handle all the logistics, transporting the items to the most appropriate recycling facility throughout the city.