Scrap Metal Recycling and the Environment

Scrap metal recycling has many major benefits for the environment. It helps cut greenhouse gas emissions, saves energy and protects the depletion of our natural resources. Significantly less energy is required to produce steel products from recycled scrap metal than from virgin ore. Most importantly however, scrap metal is a reusable resource! Unlike most other recyclables scrap metals have an almost never ending life cycle, allowing them to be recycled over and over again.

Recycling scrap metals also helps protect our landfills by preventing unwanted metals from ending up in landfills and leaching toxic metal components into the soil.

Fast Facts & Figures:

  • Aluminium can be recycled indefinitely as reprocessing does not damage its structure. Aluminium is also the most cost-effective material to recycle
  • Recycling 1kg of aluminium saves up to 6kg of bauxite, 4kg of chemical products and 14 kWh of electricity – enough to power a TV for three hours!
  • Two-thirds of all cans on supermarkets shelves are made from steel. They have a very thin layer of tin that protects the surface of the can, which is why steel cans are often called "tins".
  • Every tonne of steel packaging that is recycled saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore and reduces air emissions by 86% , water usage by 40% & 74% savings in energy
  • Steel scrap is essential in the process of making new steel and can be recycled indefinitely without losing its quality. Most new steel products use at least 25% of recycled steel in their production.
  • EU figures indicate that using recycled raw materials, including metals, cuts CO2 emissions by some 200 million tonnes CO2 emission reduction every year.
  • Almost all metal products (not just aluminium cans!) can be recycled in some way
  • Scrap accounts for 40% of the worlds raw material needs
  • Energy Saved using recycle materials vs virgin ore is estimated to be up to 95% for Aluminium , 85% for copper , 80% for plastic , 74% in iron ore & steel and 64% for paper.


Ferrous scrap is scrap iron and steel. This includes scrap from old automobiles, farm equipment, household appliances, steel beams, railroad tracks, ships, and food packaging and other containers. Ferrous scrap accounts for the largest volume of metal scrapped. Ferrous scrap is classified into almost 80 grades; additionally, there are another 40 grades of railroad ferrous scrap and even more grades of alloy scrap. Metal alloys are made from a combination of two or more metals.

Ferrous metals contain predominantly iron (they often contain small amounts of other metals), are magnetic and usually offer little resistance to corrosion. Ferrous metals include wrought iron, steel and stainless steel.



non-ferrous-products.html Nonferrous scrap metal is scrap metal other than iron and steel. While the volume of nonferrous scrap is less than ferrous scrap, it is more valuable by the pound. Here are some examples of nonferrous scrap: aluminium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, titanium, cobalt, chromium, and precious metals. Millions of tons of nonferrous scrap metal are recovered by processors and consumed by secondary smelter, refiners, ingot makers, fabricators, foundries, and other industries in this country.

Non-ferrous metals do not contain iron, are not magnetic and usually offer more resistance to corrosion than the ferrous metals. Non-ferrous metals include copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel.