The Importance of Scrap Metal Recycling and How It Can Help You Save Money
Scrap metal recycling can be a highly beneficial hobby to get into. Not only is recycling anything a great idea, but this one in specific is rather lucrative. Metal is a highly valuable material and places will pay a pretty penny for any scrap metal you bring them. But just how much is scrap metal worth? More importantly, why is it so important to recycle that metal?
Why Get into Scrap Metal Recycling?
Metals are very valuable materials that can be recycled again and again without degrading their properties. Because of this, scrap yards are always looking for more metal to recycle, meaning depending on what you bring them, they will pay you a good amount for your scrap. However, there is more to scrap metal recycling than just the financial incentive. The recycling of metals also allows us to preserve natural resources while requiring less energy to process. Making anything brand new from raw materials requires a lot of time and energy. Using recycled materials, especially metals, makes things much faster and more efficient. Recycling emits less carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses. But it also saves money and allows for manufacturing businesses to reduce their production cost, not to mention it also creates new jobs.
Quick Scrap Metal Recycling Facts
Although almost every kind of metal can be recycled again and again without degradation of properties, currently, only 30 percent of metal is recycled.
Nearly 40 percent of worldwide steel production is made using recycled steel.
Around 42 percent of crude steel in the United States is made of recycled materials.
In the United States alone, around 100 million steel and tin cans are used every day.
Steel and iron are the most recycled materials in the world due in part to the opportunity to recover large structures as well as the ease of reprocessing. The use of magnets in the sorting process enables recyclers to easily separate them from the mixed waste stream.
Every year, around 400 million tons of metal are recycled worldwide.
Currently, the single most recycled consumer product in the U.S. is the aluminum can.
Throwing away a single aluminum can waste energy equivalent to the same can filled with gasoline.
Types of Metals Recycled
Pretty much all metal can be recycled. The only difference is when it comes to the worth of that metal. Scrap yards will take whatever you bring them, but you may receive less for certain types of metals. When it comes to scrap metal recycling, metals are classified in two ways, Ferrous and Non-Ferrous. Ferrous metals are combinations of iron with carbon. Some ferrous metals that may sound familiar are carbon steel, alloy steel, wrought iron, and cast iron. Non-ferrous metals include aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, and tin. In terms of precious metals, they fall into the non-ferrous category and include gold, platinum, silver, iridium, and palladium.
Types of Metal Scrap
- Aluminum – Window frames, building structures, roofs, airplanes, trains, boats, cars and trucks. It is also used in smaller vehicles like bicycles, motorbikes, and other mobility devices such as wheelchairs. Keep in mind that if there is iron (use your magnet) attached to any of these things it will need to be removed in order for you to get full aluminum prices for scrap. Of course, your old soda and beer cans also can be recycled, but it will take a lot of volume to make an amount of money that’s worth it.
- Brass – Most commonly scrapped are valves and pipefittings. Some other items made from brass include: bullet casings, faucets, doorknobs, and light fixtures.
- Copper – Copper pipe, wires, circuits, switches, and electromagnets. A few others are plumbing fittings and also pieces found in refrigeration units, air conditioners, and water supply systems.
- Lead – Lead is used in many different applications from piping to wheel weights. It’s usually soft and somewhat pliable, but it’s deceptively heavy.
- Stainless Steel – Although containing 70% iron, stainless steel is still considered a nonferrous metal and fetches a higher price. The reason it is more valuable is because it is made using a minimum of 8% nickel. Stainless steel can often be found in appliances and kitchenware as well as some automotive and aerospace technology. It will probably look like regular steel, but will not draw a magnet.
While there are a large variety of ferrous metals (the most common being varieties of steel and iron), what’s most important to know are the following two categories of ferrous metal:
- New Scrap – Excess from the production lines of manufacturing warehouses. The common person will not likely have access to this type of metal.
- Obsolete Scrap – Old stuff: appliances, lawnmowers, cars – anything that’s old and made of steel. Both new and obsolete scrap will draw the pull of a magnet.
- Washers, Dryers, Heaters, Other Appliances
- Structural Steel
Current Metal Prices
Unfortunately, it is impossible to accurately give you the current prices of metal because they change every day, and even every hour. However, I can give you a ballpark estimate of what you may be getting. In all transparency, this list was taken from cmcrecyclingdfw, which is a scrap metal recycling center out of Dallas, Texas. This list was updated 6/18/2018 at 8:30 AM. So keep in mind that this is just one center's prices and they do not represent the current price for every location. However, this may help you to see how much you will get per pound of scrap metal. But to really know for sure, you will need to either call your local scrap yard or simply bring it and find out on the spot.
Non-Ferrous Scrap Metal Pricing (per LB)
Bare Brite Copper
No. 1 Copper
No. 2 Copper
Insulated CU Wire #1 65%
Insulated CU Wire #2 40%
Low Grade ICW
Semi Red Brass
Painted Aluminum Siding
Aluminum Clips (MLC)
Clean Aluminum Wheels
Light Irony Aluminum
Heavy Irony Aluminum
ACSR / Neoprene
Aluminum / Copper Reefers
Alum / Copper Reefers (w/Fe)
304 Stainless Steel
316 Stainless Steel
Lead Wheel Weights
Ferrous Scrap Metal Pricing (per 100 LBS)
Oversized Cast Iron
Chain link Fence
Benefits of Scrap Metal Recycling
Scrap metal recycling has many benefits to it, including environmental and financial incentives. Most of us know the general benefits of recycling in general and how great it is for the environment. But scrap metal is in a realm all its own. It is also typically an area of recycling that most are not aware of because it is not as readily available as plastic and paper is. Nevertheless, scrap metal recycling is a great thing to pick up and get into.
This is the same as recycling any other material. The resources used to create a new product from recycled material is much less than creating something from raw materials. In addition, the manufacturing process when using recycled materials releases far less greenhouse gas emissions than when using raw materials. I don't think I have to tell you why less emissions is a good thing. But in case I do, you can find out here.
When looking at the energy saved when using recycled materials compared to raw materials, the amount it astounding. 92% energy saved for aluminum production, 90% for copper, and 56% for steel. According to the US EPA, if you recycle a single aluminum can, you can conserve enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for more than 4 hours.
I mentioned before that scrap metal recycling can create jobs, and it absolutely can. Recycling metal creates 36 times more jobs than sending the same amount of metal waste to the incinerator. And six times more than sending the metal to a landfill, according to the National Institute of Health. In addition, the National Recycling Coalition says the recycling industry in general generates $236 billion annually and employs more than a million workers across the United States.
Scrap metal recycling is a vital part of the solution of climate change. Not only is it helping the environment, it is also helping the metal industry as a whole, and giving you a cash incentive in the process. So if you have spare metal laying around in your basement or garage, contact your local scrap yard and put some cash in your pocket. For any other information on how to stay green, check out the rest of Green and Growing.
Image Source: Earth911