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J&B Recycling Knowledge

Recycling metal

A Guide to Recycling Metal

Recycling metal is a vital practice that plays a significant role in reducing the impact of human activity on the environment. Metals are durable and can be recycled repeatedly without losing their properties, making them valuable resources for creating new products.

By recycling metal, we can reduce the need for extracting raw materials, conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimise waste that could otherwise end up in landfills. But it is important to understand how best to dispose of metals to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.

Can all metals be recycled?

Most metals can be recycled. Here are some of the most common metals that can be recycled and how they can be recycled:

Steel is one of the most commonly recycled metals in the world. It can be recycled by melting it down in a furnace and casting it into new shapes, such as beams or sheets.

Aluminium is another highly recyclable metal. It can be recycled by melting it down and casting it into new shapes, such as cans or car parts. Recycling aluminium requires much less energy than producing new aluminium from raw materials.

Copper is a valuable metal that can be recycled by melting it down and casting it into new shapes. Copper recycling can be done on a small scale, such as by recycling copper wire or plumbing fixtures, or on a large scale, such as by recycling copper tubing from buildings.

Brass is a combination of copper and zinc and can also be recycled. The recycling process involves melting down the brass and casting it into new shapes, such as plumbing fixtures or musical instruments.

Gold and silver are highly valuable metals that can be recycled by melting them down and casting them into new shapes, such as jewellery or electronics.

Are there any metals that can’t be recycled?

While most metals can be recycled, there are some metals that are difficult or not feasible to recycle, either due to technical limitations or economic constraints. Here are some examples:

Mercury can be recycled, but it is a highly toxic metal and must be disposed of safely to prevent environmental contamination. Disposal of mercury should be done via hazardous waste collections for businesses. Some local Household Waste Recycling Centres accept mercury.

Lead-acid batteries can be recycled, but the process is complex and requires specialized equipment. However, it is important to recycle these batteries properly to prevent lead contamination in the environment.

Magnesium is a lightweight metal that is challenging to recycle due to its low melting point and reactive nature. Recycling magnesium requires specialized equipment and processes.

Platinum, palladium, and rhodium are valuable metals used in catalytic converters and other industrial applications. While they can be recycled, the process is complex and expensive, and the yield of recycled metals is typically low.

Tungsten is a dense and hard metal used in various industrial applications. While it can be recycled, the process is difficult and requires specialised equipment.

How do you recycle metal?

Recycling metals involves a series of steps that may vary depending on the type of metal and the recycling facility. However, here are some general steps involved in recycling metals:

Collection: Metal recycling typically begins with the collection of metal items from homes, businesses, and other sources. These items may include cans, appliances, wiring, and other metal products.

Sorting: Once collected, the metal items are sorted by type and composition. Sorting may be done by hand or by using machines, such as magnetic separators, to separate ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Processing: The metal items are then processed to remove any impurities, such as paint, plastic, or other materials. Processing may involve shredding or cutting the metal into smaller pieces.

Melting: The metal is then melted down in a furnace or other high-temperature device to create molten metal. This step is necessary to remove any remaining impurities and prepare the metal for casting.

Casting: The molten metal is cast into new shapes, such as bars, sheets, or wire. These shapes can then be used to create new products or parts.

Manufacturing: Finally, the recycled metal shapes are used to manufacture new products or parts. These products may include cans, appliances, car parts, and other metal products.

Can you put metal in your recycling bin at home?

Local Authority guidance can vary from area to area, but you can typically recycle the following types of metal in your home recycling bin:

Aluminium: This only includes items such as food and drinks cans, aluminium foil, and empty aerosol cans. Any other type of aluminium should be disposed of at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

Steel/Tin: This includes items such as food and drinks cans, biscuit and sweet tins, empty paint cans, and metal lids and caps.

It's important to note that any metal items that are not included in the above categories should not be placed in your recycling bin. Instead, you can check with your local council or household waste recycling centre to find out if they accept these materials for recycling.

TIP: It's always a good idea to rinse out any metal containers before placing them in your recycling bin to prevent contamination.

In Conclusion…

It is more important than ever to prioritise sustainability and incorporate environmentally friendly practices in our daily lives. Recycling metal is a simple yet impactful way to contribute to a more sustainable future, and everyone can play a part in making it happen.

While some metals may be challenging to recycle, efforts are being made to improve the recycling of all metals and minimise their environmental impact. It is important to follow proper disposal and recycling guidelines for all materials to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.

Related Content

Mobile phones sometimes catch people out. There are several reasons why you should consider recycling your old mobile phone, and many options for doing so, however mobile phones should not be put in your recycling bin at home. Find out more in our article >> Can you recycle your mobile phone.

Metal can often be used to encase electrical equipment.If your business uses electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) you should be aware of your responsibilities when you dispose of it. Find out more in our article >> Ignorance is not bliss if you don’t comply with WEEE regulations.

J&B Recycling are based in the North of England. Our commercial collection services operate from the Scottish Borders down to Hull and North Yorkshire. Our main areas for collecting and processing commercial waste include Teesside (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton), Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, North Tyneside and Northumberland. Get in touch for more information and to request a quote.

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