America, after the recession of 2008, is on the mend and once again looking toward new construction. In major cities across the nation, construction cranes are dotting the skylines, building new bridges, high-rise offices, and infrastructure that will move the economy forward and into the next decade.

Part of the emergence of this new construction surge involves the demolition of old, worn-out, and tired structures that perhaps should have been replaced long ago. Since the early ages, man has discovered that it is easier to recycle scraps of metal left over from the production of other products than it is to produce new metals from scratch. In modern times, we now find that recycling scrap metals not only saves time and precious natural resources, but it is also better for the environment (which is why we really love what we do here at General Kinematics).

For the most part, scrap metal is separated into two categories, ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous alloys contain iron and include steel, malleable iron, and gray iron. Because iron has magnetic properties, attraction to magnets is commonly used to identify ferrous alloys. Non-ferrous refers to any metal that does not contain iron. This category includes aluminum- and copper-based alloys. These materials are non-magnetic, corrosion resistant and—most importantly, for separation purposes, heavier. The ferrous metals are compacted and shipped to steel mills and foundries, while the remaining non-ferrous material is characterized even further with a focus on aluminum and copper.

Environmental Benefits

Estimates are that 84 percent of the iron and steel used in foundries is recycled scrap. Recycling steel requires 56 percent less energy than producing steel from iron ore, and reduces Co2 emissions by up to 58 percent. Recycling also reduces the need for mining virgin ore.

Economic Benefits

One of the latest studies by the Institute for Scrap Metal Recycling found that nearly 500,000 jobs have been created by the industry. Total federal, state and local tax receipts from the activities of scrap metal recycling companies added up to more than $10 billion. Across all 50 states, the industry generated about $90 billion in economic activity. General Kinematics is honored to be a part of those numbers, and also a member of the Institute for Scrap Metal Recycling.

For a contractor that is performing demolition on an existing property, there is money to be found by recycling the onsite materials. The price of scrap metal per pound in the United States is currently at one of its highest levels of trading in history. Be sure to contact your dealer and use the following as a benchmark to know what prices you should be quoted.

The following are average prices for ferrous metals:

● Melting steel: $145 per ton

● Scrap iron: $135 per ton

● Sheet iron: $135 per ton

● Cast iron: $110 per ton

● Appliances: $0.07 per pound

Non-ferrous metals can also bring a healthy chunk of change back to the job.

● Bare bright copper (including wire): $2.20 per pound

● Copper #1-#3: $1.50-$2.10 per pound

● Brass: $1.15-$3.00 [or more if clean] per pound

● Bronze: $1.35 per pound

● 300 Series Stainless Steel: $0.35-$0.55 per pound

● Aluminum Cans: $0.36 per pound.

● Aluminum/Copper: $0.95 per pound

● Aluminum: $0.30-$0.40 per pound


End-User Benefits

Scrap metal is used to produce new products that don’t appear to be recycled in any fashion. From smartphones and televisions to new cars and buildings, recycled scrap metal winds up in a variety of unexpected products.

The United States annually processes more than 250 billion lbs. of scrap material — the weight of more than 70 million cars.

Recycled aluminum is used in everything from the aircraft industry to sporting goods. Estimates are that if all aluminum scrap processed in the United States were used solely to produce standard soda cans, the cans, lined end to end, would stretch more than 25 million miles — the distance from Earth to the planet Venus.

Copper, which was first used by humans more than 10,000 years ago, is the most widely recycled material in the world. Copper or any of its alloys, such as brass or bronze is used over and over again due to its infinite recyclable life.

Steel is the most recycled material on the planet, more than all other materials combined. Like copper, the amazing metallurgical properties of steel allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance from one product to another. Steel is the engine that drives the recycling of many consumer goods. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, automobiles are recycled at the rate of 92.5 percent followed by appliances at 90 percent and the 72 percent recycling rate of steel packaging. Recycled steel products are found in appliances, automotive products, buildings, highways, defense products, and the energy industry.

General Kinematics provides equipment that helps make scrap metal recycling possible. If you are interested in learning more, check out our scrap recycling equipment or contact us for more info. Or if you want to learn more about recycling, explore our extensive blog.

10 Responses to “The Many Benefits of Scrap Metal Recycling”

  1. Avatar

    I had no idea that around 500,000 jobs were created in the recycling industry, so I appreciate you mentioning that. When it comes to recycling metals, it’s important to work with a contractor that is licensed and insured. If I had scrap metal lying around, I would consider working with a reputable recycling service in my area.

  2. Avatar
    Sandra Patterson

    Thanks for helping me understand that recycling reduces the need for mining virgin ore. I would expect that any business owner with scrap metal would want to make a positive impact on the environment by recycling that metal. Also, thanks for the information about the significantly less amount of energy that it takes to produce steel form scrap versus iron ore; I found that very interesting.

  3. Avatar
    Ridley Fitzgerald

    It’s great to know more about scrapping metals. I like how you said that 84% of metals made can be recycled. We’ve got an old Subaru that we’d love to donate to a scrap yard so that it can be either recycled or reused.

  4. Avatar
    Angela Waterford

    I like that you mentioned that there are environmental benefits to recycling scrap metal. Personally, I think that the economic benefits are a big plus for our business so I’ll consider implementing it. Since there are end-user benefits to this as well, I’ll consider doing our part in society and finding a recycling center where we can send our scrap metal there to be recycled appropriately.

  5. Avatar
    Bree Ward

    I have always been an advocate for protecting t eh environment, and the idea of recycling my scrap metals from my old house is great. You’ve said, steel recycling can reduce Co2 emission by up to 58% that can be very good to the environment. I will definitely call a scrap metal recycling service soon.

  6. Avatar
    Thomas Jameson

    I really appreciate the statistics on the economic and environmental benefits of scrap yards. It’s important to take care of the environment, and if we can do that while benefiting the economy as well, even better. I’ll be sure to put a greater emphasis on recycling in my life moving forward.

  7. Avatar
    Dave Anderson

    That is interesting that you could scrap iron for $135 per ton. Maybe it would be good to start gathering all my iron scrap to sell sometime soon. This is something I will have to look into so I could make a few extra bucks. This is something I am sure anyone would want to do.

  8. Avatar
    Angela Waterford

    I never realized that there are economic benefits to recycling scrap metal. As far as I know, industrial companies like mine would greatly benefit from the environmental benefits that recycling provides. Since there are end-user benefits to this as well, I might look for a company that lets us rent their roll-off containers so we can recycle our non-ferrous metals at their facilities.

  9. Avatar
    Dave Anderson

    That is interesting that 84 percent of iron and steel used in foundries is recycled scrap. Maybe it would be good to start recycling my iron and steel so they could reuse it more. This is something I am going to have to look into so I can scrap the metal I don’t use.

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