The biggest challenges of recycling scrap metal
Recycling metal is not only very beneficial for the environment, but it can also help cut down on production costs. Metals can be recycled time after time without losing much in quality. Therefore, old, unnecessary metal products can be collected and remade into completely new ones without the need for mining the materials.
Why is recycling metal important?
Recycling metal helps in the reduction of costs and allows for the production of more affordable products. With the expanse of our society and the improvement of the financial situation, the market for new goods is constantly growing. Thanks to the reuse of the previously used metals, we can create new items while not overstretching the limitations of the available resources. The reduction in the number of new mining sites can prevent environmental pollution, save the available resources, and help protect the natural habitat at the same time.
The most commonly recycled metals are:
- aluminium – a metal that is 100% recyclable and doesn’t lose its quality with time, making it one of the most efficient materials for recycling;
- steel – it has one of the highest rates of recycling of all the metals. And almost 40% of the steel products found on the market consist of the recycled material;
- copper – another metal that can be recycled over and over again without it causing any change in the quality of the final product. And it’s estimated that recycling copper can save up to 90% of the energy which would have to be used while processing newly mined material.
The challenges of recycling metal
As every other growing industry, metal recycling comes with its own set of challenges. Even with the knowledge of the changing climate and the general agreement concerning environmental protection, an insufficient amount of products ends up in recycling centres. Some people prefer to hold onto old things instead of getting rid of them, while others are uncertain how to properly throw them out. There is a need for increased awareness of the right segregation methods in order to maximise the recycling systems.
Need for segregated waste
To increase the amount of materials available for recycling, the rubbish we throw out needs to be segregated correctly. Many places have regulations in place which inform residents on how to properly sort such materials. But there is still work to be done in this area, as simply not enough of goods get recycled. The matter gets even more complicated when we’re dealing with products consisting of a variety of materials. If there is no easy way of dismantling such products, it may be difficult to sort them correctly.
Sorting the materials
When the products already make it to the recycling centre, there’s a need to sort them and separate from other materials, e.g. plastic or paper. The technological advancement allows for the quick identification of the materials with the use of handheld analysers and similar products. This helps make the sorting process more efficient, but unfortunately, the current solutions could still use some improvements.
Recycling electronic waste
The fast development of electronics creates a lot of e-waste, as we constantly change our computers and smartphones for new models. Recycling electronic waste is beneficial to the environment but also very cost-effective, as such products consist of many rare metals. With the increasing number of such devices ending up in recycling, there will be a need for more advanced facilities to accommodate this specific branch of the industry.