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The Benefits of Recycling Vs. Extracting Raw Metal

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A green bin with a recycling icon and the word metal on the front, filled with metal ready to be recycled

If you have any scrap metal lying around your home, recycling is a great way to get rid of it. It may seem easier to throw your scrap metal away, but recycling can help the environment by reusing scrap instead of extracting new materials. 

What are the benefits of recycling instead of extracting new ore? Continue reading to learn more about metal recycling and the benefits it has over mining new materials. 

What is Metal Recycling? 

Metal recycling is a vital process to reduce environmental impact, use fewer resources, and lower the production costs of new materials. This process is circular; metals can be scrapped, melted down, reused, and brought back to be recycled once more. Some metals you can continuously recycle without losing their properties. 

You can recycle many metals for reuse. These metals fall into two categories: ferrous and non-ferrous. 

Ferrous Metals 

Ferrous metals are magnetic and primarily consist of iron. They’re known for their strength, durability, and hardness, and you’ll find them used in many everyday appliances. 

While ferrous metals are recyclable, they must be usable. Some common ferrous metals that can be recycled include: 

  • Structural steel 
  • Angle products 
  • Channel pieces
  • Hollow structural section steel
  • Plate (metal flattened into sheets) 
  • Beams 

Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-ferrous metals are the opposite of ferrous metals. They don’t contain large amounts of iron and are non-magnetic. These metals are malleable, meaning you can hammer and mould them without the risk of breaking them

Because of this, you can find many non-ferrous metals in electrical and electronic products. There are many non-ferrous metals you can recycle, such as: 

  • Aluminum 
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Insulated wire
  • Nickel alloys
  • Stainless steel
  • Carbide/tungsten carbide

Regardless of the type of metal, all scrap goes through a similar process to create new metals for use. 

How Does Metal Recycling Work? 

The metal you recycle goes through several steps before it comes back as a new product. This overall process includes: 

  • Collection of materials
  • Separation of metals 
  • Shredding of metals for easier melting 
  • Melting of metals 
  • Purification of any impurities 
  • Shaping of metals into ingots 
  • Delivery of metal ingots for new use

This vital process helps to keep valuable metal out of landfills, helping to preserve finite materials. Almost one-third of all aluminum today consists of recycled materials. 

The alternative to metal recycling is the raw extraction of materials. How does this process compare to recycling? 

An illustration of the process required to perform raw metal extraction

What is Raw Metal Extraction? 

Raw metal extraction can seem self-explanatory. It’s the process of extracting raw materials from the earth. There are 3 primary methods for extracting ore

  • Underground mining
  • Surface (open pit) mining
  • Placer mining 

Some materials are deep under the earth’s surface, requiring rock drilling and blasting before materials arrive at the surface. Other ores are closer to the earth’s surface, and mining can operate without digging far underground. 

No matter the type of mining used, this process can be costly and disruptive to the environment. Metal recycling can help reduce the amount of unnecessary mining by reusing the same materials for further use. This method has several benefits over extracting raw materials. 

What Are the Benefits of Recycling vs. Extracting Raw Metal? 

There are several benefits of recycling compared to extracting raw materials. The recycling process is important for protecting the environment and lowering energy consumption. 

The main benefits of recycling scrap metal over extracting new ore are:

Resource Preservation 

Metal is a finite resource on earth. No ore will be available once all of it is dug up in mining operations. Recycling is beneficial because it allows for more ore to stay in the ground. 

With readily available material that is reusable, recycling can help reduce the rate at which we extract non-renewable resources to meet our needs. 

Environmental Preservation 

If there’s one thing recycling is known for, it’s earth-friendliness. Mining for new ore can require underground digging and destruction of the earth to retrieve materials. While it can be necessary, recycling scrap metal is more eco-friendly and less resource-heavy. 

Another benefit of metal recycling is that it reduces waste accumulation in landfills. Scrap can take a long time to break down, but recycling allows metals to have a new purpose. 

Lower Energy Consumption

Mining is costly and requires large amounts of energy. It requires various machines for mining and refining raw materials, while recycling has considerably fewer energy costs. Energy is roughly 30% of primary aluminum production costs, while aluminum scrap uses 5% of the energy during production. 

Besides lower energy costs, scrap metal recycling can be even more efficient than mining

Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

Lower energy consumption means that scrap metal recycling produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, requiring less fuel. Scrap metal is easier to melt down than natural ore, meaning fewer fossil fuels need to be burned, helping to bring down the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

Reap The Benefits of Recycling 

There are many environmental benefits to recycling scrap metal instead of mining for new ore, but one is missing. Recycling scrap metal can help you make some extra money. If you have any scrap metal you want to get rid of, contact your local recycling centre.

Written by Federal Metals

Calgary is in our blood. We love living and working in this city, and we want to do our part in bettering the lives of all Calgarians. By choosing Federal Metals, you’re choosing an incredible team committed to improving the environment and finding ethical ways to recycle your metal.

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