Scrap & Recycling

Scrap consists of recyclable materials left over from product manufacturing and consumption, such as parts of vehicles, building supplies, and surplus materials. Unlike waste, scrap has monetary value, especially recovered metals, and non-metallic materials are also recovered for recycling.

The “organized chaos” of a scrapyard

Scrap metal originates both in business and residential environments. Typically a “scrapper” will advertise their services to conveniently remove scrap metal for people who don’t need it.

Aluminium Recycling

Aluminium recycling is the process by which scrap aluminium can be reused in products after its initial production. The process involves simply re-melting the metal, which is far less expensive and energy-intensive than creating new aluminium through the electrolysis of aluminium oxide (Al2O3), which must first be mined from bauxite ore and then refined using theBayer process. Recycling scrap aluminium requires only 5% of the energy used to make new aluminium.For this reason, approximately 31% of all aluminium produced in the United States comes from recycled scrap. Used beverage containers are the largest component of processed aluminum scrap, and most of it is manufactured back into aluminium cans.


The recycling of aluminium generally produces significant cost savings over the production of new aluminium, even when the cost of collection, separation and recycling are taken into account.Over the long term, even larger national savings are made when the reduction in the capital costs associated with landfills, mines, and international shipping of raw aluminium are considered.

Copper Recycling

Copper is a chemical element with symbol Cu (from Latin: cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable and ductile metal with very high thermal andelectrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a reddish-orange color. It is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry, cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement.

Ferrous Recycling

In the United States, steel containers, cans, automobiles, appliances, and construction materials contribute the greatest weight of recycled materials. For example, in 2008, more than 97% of structural steel and 106% of automobiles were recycled, comparing the current steel consumption for each industry with the amount of recycled steel being produced (the late 2000s recession and the associated sharp decline in automobile production in the US explains the over-100% calculation). A typical appliance is about 75% steel by weight and automobiles are about 65% steel and iron.

The steel industry has been actively recycling for more than 150 years, in large part because it is economically advantageous to do so. It is cheaper to recycle steel than to mine iron ore and manipulate it through the production process to form new steel. Steel does not lose any of its inherent physical properties during the recycling process, and has drastically reduced energy and material requirements compared with refinement from iron ore. The energy saved by recycling reduces the annual energy consumption of the industry by about 75%, which is enough to power eighteen million homes for one year. According to the International Resource Panel’s Metal Stocks in Society report, the per capita stock of steel in use in Australia, Canada, the European Union EU15, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand and the US combined is 7,085 kilograms (15,620 lb) (about 860 million people in 2005).