Scrap Metal Recycling

Scrap Metal Recycling of Ferrous & Non-Ferrous Metals


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By 20 November 2019 Shares

All about scrap metal recycling


reuse-reduce-recycle-iconThere is always demand for source separated high quality scrap metals.

What is metal recycling?

Metal recycling is the process of separating, cleaning and melting ferrous and non-ferrous scrap so it can be used again as a raw material for new products. Metal is a material which can be recycled over and over again without degradation of its properties. Besides the ecological benefit of metal recycling there is also an economical benefit. Scrap metals have a monetary value and there is always demand for high quality sorted scrap metals for recycling.

For optimal scrap metal recycling, it is important that scrap metal is source-separated at your warehouse or workshop. With the right scrap metal tools you can collect, sort and clean all of your scrap metal.

Your local scrap metal dealer can collect your separated streams of scrap metal. It is recommended to use a scale to weigh your scrap metal beforehand. Also inform authoritative resources for the current scrap metal prices, since scrap metal prices are constantly changing.

Metal recyclers will sort and process the scrap metal further and remove any impurities. After this process the heavy and bulky scrap metals are shredded with a scrap metal shredder or compacted with an alligator or scrap shear into smaller chunks of metal. These chunks are then melted in large furnaces for each type of metal. The melting process requires a lot of energy, but the energy that is required to mine virgin metals is lots higher. So, therefore, metal recycling is more energy efficient.

After the melting process, the metals are purified to free the product of impurities, this benefits the quality of the metal. The metal is then cooled and solidified in metal bars ready for transportation to use as a raw material.

Learn more about how to recycle scrap metal at

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Difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals?

All types of metal can be recycled. But in order to recycle the scrap metal it is required to sort the ferrous metals from the non-ferrous metals at your facility. But what is the main difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals? The main difference is that ferrous metal is magnetic and non-ferrous metals are nonmagnetic, so basically you can identify ferrous from non-ferrous metals by using a magnet.

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals

What is ferrous metal?

The word ‘ferrous’ means ‘containing iron’. Common ferrous metals are scrap iron, cast iron, stainless steel and carbon steel. Most ferrous metals are alloys, which means that they are a substance of two or more metals. Ferrous metals are used in architectural and industrial fabrication, for instance for ships, cars, bridges, railroads or steel beams for skyscrapers. Ferrous metal is the most used metal and therefore it covers the largest volume of scrap metal world-wide.


  • Mostly contains iron.
  • Can corrode or rust when not alloyed.
  • Strong and hard material.
  • Most ferrous metals are magnetic.
  • Ferrous metals are alloys.

What is non-ferrous metal?

Non-ferrous metals are metals that don’t contain iron or steel. Common non-ferrous metals are aluminum (or aluminium), copper, lead, nickel, tin, zinc, brass and precious metals. The main characteristic is that non-ferrous metals are non-magnetic, light, strong and durable. Because of their light weight and durability, non-ferrous metals are used in the airline industry for instance. But non-ferrous metals are also used in residential, industrial and commercial industries. For instance for the fabrication of pipes, batteries, appliances, wiring, jewelry, cutlery and computer parts.


  • Doesn’t contain iron or steel.
  • More resistant to corrosion or rust.
  • Ferrous metals are non magnetic.
  • Known for to be very light.
  • Higher in value than ferrous metals.

Video: Difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals

How to Recycle Commercial Scrap Metal?

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals can be recycled an infinite amount of times without the material losing its quality. By source separating scrap metal at your facility you make metal recycling possible. Beside the environmental benefit of sorting and recycling various metals, it also generates extra income for your business. That is because scrap metal has monetary value and due to source separation it benefits the value of the material.

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How to recycle scrap metal?
Scrap metal removal, collection & recycling in 7 steps

  1. Step 1: Collecting – Collect all scrap metal in and around your facility on a daily basis. Make sure there is a centralized and dedicated area for collecting all ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals. See recommended scrap metal collecting tools.
  2. Step 2: Separating – Separate as much of the metals as possible, this is important for high-quality recycling. Sort all the ferrous metals from the non-ferrous metals. A rule of thumb is that most ferrous metals, such as steel, are magnetic. Stainless steel is an exception because this metal contains a low percentage of iron. Therefore it doesn’t always react to magnets that well.
  3. Step 3: Sorting – Sorted metals are more valuable than mixed metals. So for the highest price of your scrap, it is recommended to sort the metals into single streams of alloy steel, carbon steel, wrought iron, brass, copper, aluminum, lead, zinc, tin, bronze and precious metals like gold and silver. Some metals are difficult to identify. There are tools to identify metals, such as X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers. See recommended scrap metal sorting tools.
  4. Step 4: Cleaning – Clean the scrap metals thoroughly, because scrap dealers and mills prefer scrap metals that are clean. Remove anything that isn’t metal such as glass, wood or plastic. For instance strip electrical copper wiring with a wire stripper to remove the plastic layer. The main benefit of cleaned scrap metal is more transparent pricing. See recommended scrap metal cleaning tools.
  5. Step 5: Cutting – If possible, cut large pieces of scrap metal to reduce the volume of the material. This will save up space in your facility and it is easier to efficiently fill up the scrap metal containers.
  6. Step 6: Weighing – After sorting and cleaning the scrap metal, it is recommended to weigh the sorted metals so you know exactly how many scrap metal you separated at your location. It also gives you insight into how to reduce the number of metals you are using and wasting in your company. See recommended pallet floor scales.
  7. Step 7: Selling – Each type of scrap metal has its own market price, and these prices change daily. When selling your scrap metal to a scrap dealer it is recommended to be aware of the current market prices of scrap metal. The weight and market price determines the revenue of the material. A clean and separated single stream of scrap metal, for instance, sorted copper, yields more revenue than a container with mixed scrap metals. Read more information about scrap metal prices.

See all recommended scrap metal tools.

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Step Up: Recycle, Reuse & Reduce

The three arrows of the recycling symbol represent the three main stages of the recycling process: recycling, reusing and reducing. Together the arrows form a closed loop. Step up and implement eco-friendly replacements in your daily life.


Join the movement! Step Up the waste hierarchy together to a goal of Zero Waste.

By 20 November 2019 Shares