Recycling used scrap metal has been important to our economy for more than 200 years. To make a livelihood in the 1800s, native-born Americans and recent immigrants gathered, processed, and sold junk. Since then, as more and more people and businesses realize the advantages of recycling metal, an ever-growing volume of scrap metal has found its way through the recycling process. Thanks to advancements in technology and greater efforts to collect recyclables, a wide variety of metals are recycled today.
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What Advantages Do Metal Recycling Offer?
Recycling metal helps both individuals and a variety of industries. After creating their goods, industries that use metal for production frequently have mountains of scrap left behind. From a commercial standpoint, it makes little sense to recycle metal waste and deal with the hassle when they could be thrown away right away. In other words, we can make money out of this waste. Profits are increased when this industrial scrap is sold to recycling plants.
Although scrap metal can be sold by consumers for a profit, the scrap recycling industry’s greatest benefit to people is its ability to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Recycling scrap metal requires a lot of effort in and of itself. A 2015 economic research conducted by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) found that the $105 billion in yearly economic activity generated by the scrap business and its suppliers supports over 470,000 well-paying employment. The industry and its workers paid $6.76 billion in federal taxes in 2014, in addition to around $4.4 billion in state and local taxes.
Recycled metal is less expensive for a company than freshly extracted metal from virgin ores. Utilizing these less expensive raw materials reduces the cost of production. Customers in the cutthroat market receive lower-priced consumer items as a result of these savings. The usage of recycled scrap metal results in decreased pricing for a wide range of consumer items, including groceries, appliances, cars, and furniture.
Balance of World Trade
The scrap metal recycling sector is very competitive, which is why the United States exports a large volume of scrap metal every year. Known as “scrap commodities,” these exports make a significant impact on the trade balances of the United States. The United States exported $21 billion worth of waste goods to 160 nations in 2014.
Preserves Natural Resources
Even while economics may have been the primary motivator for the recycling industry’s founding, the environment now stands to gain greatly. Using scrap metal primarily helps to preserve natural resources. The majority of metals may be recycled again and again without losing any of their qualities. Similar to an above-ground mine, a scrap metal recycling operation provides raw materials to the industrial, transportation, and construction sectors. A greater utilization of waste material lowers the need for ore that has been mined, reducing the amount of this non-renewable resource used and the disturbance of natural ecosystems and land.
Cuts Down on Energy Use
Recycling scrap metal requires a lot less energy than mining metal ore, which is another advantage of scrap metal. It takes a lot of energy to make useful metal from mined ore. For example, according to ISRI, utilizing aluminum waste instead of virgin materials saves around 95% of the energy. Emissions of greenhouse gases are decreased when energy use is decreased. According to ISRI, utilizing iron and steel waste instead of virgin resources reduces carbon emissions by 58%.
Additional Environmental Advantages
There is less trash in landfills because recycled metals such as copper, aluminum, steel, and other metals are kept out of the waste stream. The environment benefits from less landfill usage overall, but metals in landfills should be kept to a minimum since they can leach dangerous substances. Reducing mining and energy use also improves the environment by lowering wastewater and air pollution, among other things.
The Prospects for Recycling Scrap Metal
Even though recycling waste metal has several advantages, most metal produced in the world today comes from mined virgin ore. Process enhancements can lead to higher recycling rates. Software for the scrap metal recycling business is provided by Maryland-based ScrapWare Corp., which is always working to improve its offering to help recyclers increase productivity, profitability, and compliance. Due to industry challenges including constantly shifting regulatory requirements, recyclers might benefit from software to help them stay competitive.
Metal recycling rates might be raised by more technical advancements. Disassembly and material separation during disposal might be facilitated by new designs for consumer products, particularly in the case of electronics that contain trace quantities of valuable metals. Technology advancements in the recycling process may also be able to keep up with increasingly sophisticated items. We can all benefit from more scrap metal recycling thanks to technological advancements like these!