Recycling is important. Almost everyone agrees with that. Metal recycling can matter far more than recycling some other waste materials because of its potential.
The reason for this is that most metals, especially steel and aluminum, are infinitely recyclable. It uses fewer resources to recycle these metals than to produce raw materials.
Plastic, paper, cardboard, and glass waste have been recycled in America for decades. Most of us only recycle our empty soda and beer cans when it comes to recycling metals.
Aluminum cans are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recycling metals.
The State of Metals Recycling
We use and dispose of steel, copper, aluminum, and other metals each year as a nation, but how good are we at recycling them?
Here are a few metal recycling statistics
- In 2018, only 34% of metal in U.S. municipal waste facilities was recycled.
- Around 69 percent of crude steel in the United States in 2019 was made of recycled materials.
- Steel and iron are the most recycled materials.
- The most recycled container in the world is the aluminum can.
So Many Metals, So Much Metals Recycling Potential
Metals fall into two basic categories: ferrous and non-ferrous. Iron is the main component in all ferrous metals, making them magnetic. The one we are most familiar with today is steel, which is magnetic as we know from experience.
A ferrous metal can also be mild steel, carbon steel, stainless steel, and cast iron.
All other non-magnetic metals are non-ferrous metals. A brief list of the most common non-ferrous metals includes:
Yet, even though almost all metals can be recycled over and over again without losing their properties, only about a third of all metal waste is currently recycled. Some metals, however, are recycled at a higher rate than others.
Metal Recycling: An Easy Process for Anyone and Everyone
All of us own and use items made of some type of metal.
Therefore, it makes sense that people throw out metal things or things that have metal in them. However, these things shouldn’t be thrown away in our household or at work. Nearly all metals are infinitely recyclable. And that means that our disposal default should be to recycle them.
Metal recycling is not a particularly difficult task, but there are a few easy steps anyone can follow to make sure it is done correctly.