RECYCLE | Scrap Metal Manual
- Tools for scrap metal recycling
- Current metal prices
- Scrap metal prices, dealers & yards
- Scrap metal types & recycling processes
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.
Things to do with your scrap metal:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 a more transparent pricing.
- 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.
- 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 in how to reduce the amount of metals you are using and wasting in your company.
- 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.
Weight * Price = Revenue
Tools for scrap metal recycling
For the highest valued scrap metal it is important to make use of the right scrap metal tools. These tools exist of heavy-duty equipment which helps you with the collection, sorting and cleaning of all your scrap metals in and around your industrial facility or workshop.
Cleaned and sorted scrap metal is better for the overall recycling process and reuse of the material, but the cleaned material also yields more revenue for your business. Besides the heavy-duty equipment to sort and clean the scrap metal it is also important to make use of tools which determines the current value of the scrap metal. When you sell your sorted scrap metals it is recommended that you have access to weighing equipment to weigh the separated ferrous and non-ferrous waste streams. You also need to know the current market prices of scrap metal before selling it to a scrap collector.
Below we’ve listed useful scrap metal tools, which are essential for your scrap metal operations:
1. SCRAP COLLECTING TOOLS
Lift large and heavy ferrous scrap metal with a heavy-duty lifting magnet.
A magnetic lifter is made with strong neodymium magnets and requires no electricity. The manual handle switches the magnet on or off, please make sure there is always a piece of magnetic metal under the lifter before turning the magnet on with the handle. With the large U-loop shackle hook you can easily attach the metal lifter to a crane. For instance attach the lifter to a hydraulic engine hoist also known as a foldable floor crane. Or attach the magnetic lifter to a heavy-duty telescoping gantry crane. You can also use a hanging industrial crane with scale to weigh the scrap metal while lifting. The lifting magnet comes in multiple strengths for picking up and moving ferrous metals like steel sheets. For extra stability it is recommended to use two lifting magnets.
Collect and sort scrap metal in a self dumping hopper. After scrap metal collection lift the hopper with a forklift and easily discard the contents in the scrap metal container.
A self dumping hopper is a relatively small container that is equipped with two fork pockets underneath the base for a forklift or pallet truck. The forklift lifts the self dump hopper with the forks which can be inserted into two full length fork tubes. The hopper can be used to temporarily store scrap metal which can be transported and discarded into a larger scrap container. After dumping the contents the hopper automatically returns to an upright, locked position.
Open side hoppers are V-shaped hoppers with opened sides. This type of forklift hoppers are ideal for transporting and handling scrap metal of all lengths and thicknesses.
Metal pipes and thick heavy steel bars are too long to fit in a standard self-dumping hopper. An open side hopper is designed to safely transporting these types of scrap metal. You can also lift the hopper with a forklift. The angle of the hopper prevents the metal from rolling or moving when in transit. When loaded and unlatched the hopper will roll forward to discharge its contents and it rolls back in its upright position when emptied.
The flatbed hopper is ideal for collecting and transporting large steel sheets with a forklift. The hopper can be lifted with a forklift.
For large metal sheets or plates it is recommended to use this flatbed dumping hopper. With a lifting magnet and a hydraulic crane or engine hoist you can lift large scrap metal sheets on the flatbed of the hopper and use a forklift to transport the load to the desired location. When the dump handle is pulled down the hopper unloads the material by tilting forward.
A pallet truck with scale is an industrial tool to lift and move around heavy loads on pallets and weigh them on the go.
With a pallet scale truck there is no need to weigh scrap metal on a separate platform scale. You can weigh the load directly with the weighing scale which is located inside the forks of the pallet truck. A manual or electric pump truck is an ideal solution to transit and weigh scrap metal in your warehouse. Pallet trucks with a scale can also be equipped with a printer to label the material. It is important to know the weight of your sorted scrap metal when selling it. When you place a self dumping hopper on a pallet you can lift it with the pallet truck and weigh the contents with the internal scale sensors.
With a pallet floor scale or platform scale you can weigh all of your collected scrap metal. Place the loaded pallet on the scale and read out the weight of the material.
When you don’t want to use a pallet truck with scale you can use a separate floor scale. These large and mobile scales can be placed anywhere in your facility. Place a loaded pallet with scrap metal on the platform with a pallet truck or forklift and the scale shows the weight of the materials. You can also weigh a loaded self dumping hopper on the scale. A platform scale can weigh your scrap metal more precise than a pallet scale truck. Place the floor scale on a flat level surface for the most accurate data.
2. SCRAP SORTING TOOLS
A pocket magnet is ideal for metal recycling because you can identify and sort ferrous metals from non-ferrous metals quick and easy.
When you perform a magnet test on your scrap metal it is recommended to clean the metal. Remove any corrosion (which already indicates ferrous metal) and strip away any insulation or other non-metal parts. You can also use a workshop file to clean the surface of the metal. When the magnet sticks to the material it is a ferrous metal. But be careful, some types of stainless steel are not magnetic. So a magnetic test isn’t 100% reliable to identify all types of metals, but nevertheless it is a great first indicator.
With a bench grinder you can perform a spark test to identify the type of metal. You can determine the metal by looking at the type sparks and the color of the sparks.
Do you have a piece of unknown scrap metal? Then you can use a bench grinder to help you identifying it. Hold a piece of metal against the grinding wheel, this will cause lots of sparks. And these sparks tells you more about the type of metal it is. Some metals produce short red sparks, while others produce a lot of long white sparks. In this video you can see a spark test done with different kind of metals and a bench grinder. This book also shows characteristics of metal sparks
Perform elemental analysis with an XRF analyzer. With an XRF analyzer you are able to qualify and identify metal elements within a few seconds.
XRF stands for ‘x-ray fluorescence‘, this phenomenon is used for elemental analysis which is perfect to use for identifying scrap metal. The handheld inspection tool is portable and easy to use. Just point the tool at the unknown piece of metal or alloy and let the XRF scan and analyse the material for you. The elemental database inside the XRF analyzer tells you which type of metal it is.
Use a cut-off saw to cut apart large scrap metal parts which helps transporting and storing the material at your facility.
Let the saw do the heavy-duty work for you when cutting through all kinds of scrap metal. This heavy-duty cut-off saw is recommended when you have to deal with lots of large scrap metal objects. Like old car bodies, large appliances, steel pipes, aluminum sheets, trailer frames or large structural steel from a construction site. It depends on the job what kind of cutting tool is best for ripping through scrap metal.
4. SCRAP CLEANING TOOLS
Automatically strip wires with a stripping machine. Remove plastic and rubber insulation from copper wires.
A scrap wiring tool is an essential tool for scrap metal recycling, especially for copper recycling. It is recommended to use a wire stripping machine with multiple channels for stripping various round and flat wires. These machines come in multiple variants. You can also opt for an automatic wire stripping machine which connects to a drill (not included) to power the machine. There are also manual stripping machines which are operated by turning a handle manually.
Cut and strip wires with a handheld wire stripper. These tools are suitable for various copper wires and cables to strip for metal recycling.
Strip and clean up round and flat copper wires from the plastic insulation. With this tool you can cut large pieces of wire and strip them on the go. This scrap metal tool is suitable for stripping various wires and cables but it is recommended for the more smaller sized insulated copper wires. For large quantities and thicker cables it is advised to use an automatic stripping machine.
5. SAFETY GEAR
While handling scrap metal it is recommended to use your safety equipment, also known as personal protective equipment (PPE). For instance use heavy-duty gloves, safety glasses, steel toe boots and hard hats. Also read the official instruction manual before using a scrap metal tool for safe operation.
Current metal prices
LME Official Metal Prices, US$ per tonne
Stay up-to-date with current scrap metal prices related to London Metal Exchange pricing (LME). Ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal prices fluctuate on a daily basis and follow the current LME metal pricing, which is the global standard.
Spot & Historical Metal Pricing Charts, US$ per pound
- Spot quotes are non-LME prices
- Pricing per pound (lb)
1 kilogram = 2.20462262 pounds
Aluminum / Aluminium
Scrap metal prices, dealers & yards
Where to find current scrap metal prices?
The prices of ferrous and non ferrous metals are calculated differently. Non ferrous metal prices are mainly related to the London Metal Exchange pricing index and have a more more uniform global pricing because of the availability of metals by the LME-approved global storage network. Additional, the transportation costs of non ferrous metals are relatively low because of the high value of the material.
The value of ferrous scrap metals are more regional differentiated, depending on local demand and supply and relative high transportation cost with lower material value. Read more about global scrap prices.
Below you can find current scrap metal prices and lists of scrap metal items for metal recycling. Such as prices for scrap iron, cans, zinc, tin, steel, bronze, copper and mixed scrap.
Please note that most sources for free scrap metal prices contain pricing information that are a few weeks or a few months old. This information isn’t very useful when you want to trade scrap metals, because then you need to know the most recent scrap metal prices. But you can roughly predict current scrap metal prices by following the price trend from the London Metal Exchange (LME) for the main type of metal. Separated, cleaned and pure scrap metals, like stripped copper cable or copper tubing for example, are often traded by or between professionals at formulas coupled to actual LME listings.
North America – Free scrap metal prices:
- Scrap Register – One month old prices. Subscribe for real-time scrap prices.
- Scrap Monster – Three months old prices. Subscribe for real-time scrap prices.
Europe – Free scrap metal prices:
- Lets Recycle – Weekly prices.
Where to find scrap metal yards or collectors near me?
Official directory of scrap metal yards North America:
- ISRI – Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.
Official directory of scrap metal yards United Kingdom:
- BMRA – The British Metals Recycling Association.
Scrap metal apps with prices & yards for professionals:
- iScrap App – The market leading toolbox for metal traders in North America.
- Metal Radar – The best tools for metal traders in Europe.
Scrap metal types & recycling processes
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.
There is always demand for source separated scrap metals.
For optimal scrap metal recycling it is important that scrap metal is source separated at your warehouse or workshop. The tools mentioned above can help you 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 Earth911.com.
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 non magnetic, so basically you can identify ferrous from non-ferrous metals by using a magnet.
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
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.
By Recycling.com/ 2 October 2019