The Scrap Metal Recycling Process

A lot of materials can only be recycled a couple of times before their properties start degrading to a point where these materials become unusable. Luckily, metal is not one of these materials because it can be recycled many times over and over again with hardly any property degradation at all. 

The scrap metal recycling process is very important for preserving natural resources and for maintaining a growing economy. But very few people know exactly what these processes entail. Here is a quick breakdown of the scrap metal recycling process in our modern times.

Metal Collecting

It is always better to sell scrap metal in bulk and get a good haul before transporting it to the scrap metal facility. For some companies, there is a minimum amount of metal you should bring in and there might be a minimum weight before you can arrange a pickup for your waste metal.

As a rule of thumb, any object you set out on your scrap metal pile should contain at least 50% metal. If there are more other materials than metal then it might be a good idea to strip out the metal components and discard the rest.

Sorting Metal

Scrap metal is sold by weight and some metal types are heavier and are valued higher than others. Metal is usually sorted by type and quality before it is sent to scrap metal companies. There are two main types of metal; ferrous metal which have magnetic characteristics and include iron and steel. And noon-ferrous metal which has non-magnetic characteristics and includes metal types like copper and aluminium.

Some scrap metal types like mercury, uranium, and plutonium can’t be recycled and there are not many yards willing to take on these metals because they can have radioactive properties. These metal types will only be accepted by scrap metal companies that do in fact have the means to safely dispose of these materials. 

Weighing and Selling

Once scrap metal have been sorted into different categories, they are taken to scrap metal facilities where these different groups are weighted. Metal is purchased or sold by its weight and non-ferrous metals have a much higher value compared to ferrous metals. Some types of non-ferrous metals are also much more sought after than other varieties. The market value of metal can vary a lot as the global demand for metal increases or decrease.

Processed Into Forms

Before metals are melted, they are cut down into smaller sizes and into specific shapes. Scrap yards usually prepare waste metal according to the needs of different smelting companies. The metal is shredded, torched, balled, and weighted into cubes or quantities of different sizes by the scrap metal company.

Smelting and Refining

The smelting and refining process differs for each type of metal and for the level of purity that is needed for making new products. When metals are melted, the impurities will rise to the top so these impurities can be removed. Additional refinement processes like electrolysis can also sometimes be used to renew the recycled metal as much as possible.


Once the metal has been purified, it is solidified in different forms. These forms can vary a lot since manufacturers have all sorts of form requirements for metal products. Some metal will be solidified in the forms of bars, wire, coils, or sheets after which it is processed to manufacturing companies. 


Various manufacturers like auto markets, robotics, aerospace companies, public works, and general product manufacturers will buy up the solidified and purified scrap metal and transform these metals into new products that are then sold on the market again.

The metal recycling process is quite complex yet very interesting. If you want to learn more about this industry or perhaps want to start collecting and selling metal yourself then you should give Danny Scrap metal a call.