How is Steel Recycled?
Modern steel is recycled through a fairly simple and efficient process.
First, the scrap metal is melted down to separate the iron ore from other elements it may contain, such as aluminum, manganese, carbon and zinc.
The melted steel is then cast to be reworked into new consumer and industrial products. Unlike many other materials, recycled steel keeps its strength. Because of this, steel is the most popular recycled metal in the world. More than two-thirds of the new steel products available have been created using recycled materials.
Learn how we make it easy for enterprises, businesses and homeowners to recycle their scrap steel.
What can recycled steel become?
Because steel maintains its durability after being recycled, it can be used anywhere we’d use new steel: bridges, aircraft, plumbing and roofing. It’s also found in a number of consumer products, such as appliances and lawnmowers. Many of the safety features we see in modern cars are made of recycled steel, including safety cages, seat belt buckles, door latches and damage absorption beams in car doors.
Recycled Steel and the Environment
Recycling steel saves energy, materials and the environment. Producing recycled steel requires only 25% of the energy necessary to mine raw iron ore. Every 2,000 pounds of recycled scrap steel prevents the mining of 1,400 pounds of coal and 2,500 pounds of iron ore. Compared to mining new metal, the process of recycling steel cuts air pollution by 80% and water pollution by 70%.
Common Places to Find Recyclable Steel
Recyclable steel can easily be found around the home and in items such as:
- Metal swings
- Patio furniture
- Household appliances – washing machines, lawnmowers, dishwashers, stoves, refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, microwaves, wood-burning stoves
However, the lion’s share of recyclable steel can be found on construction sites or farm sites with commercial scrap steel. If the job site doesn’t belong to you, always get permission before attempting to retrieve any of these items from commercial areas:
- Industrial machinery
- Manufacturing runoff
- Old railroad tracks
- Tractors and other farm equipment