What Happens Behind the Scenes at Scrap Metal Recycling Facilities?

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Scrap metal is recycled because it has reuse value and brings a host of critical benefits to the environment. Most unwanted metal items are fully recyclable, meaning they can be recycled over and over again without losing their fundamental properties. 

By giving scrap metal new life, scrap metal recycling reduces the need to manufacture new metal products from virgin metal ores, which requires significant energy resources to extract the metal from, causes disruption of untouched landscape and increases the release of harmful greenhouse gases. 

If you've been religiously taking your scrap metal to scrap metal recyclers near you in order to divert the material from landfills and earn a little extra cash but you don't know what happens to your scrap metal once you leave, you might be curious to know what goes on behind the scenes. 

Read along to learn the basic steps involved in the scrap metal recycling process.


It's a job you're all too familiar with – you collect scrap metal, put it in a truck and bring it to a scrap metal recycler near you. Scrap metal recyclers buy metal items by weight. Once you're ushered into their facility, your waste is weighed in order to determine how much you should be paid.

This step – collection – is the first step of the scrap metal recycling process. 


Scrap metal comes in a wide variety of metal materials, including steel, aluminium, copper, zinc, wrought iron, nickel, brass and more. All the metals fall into two main categories – ferrous and non-ferrous metals. One of the key differences between ferrous metals and their non-ferrous cousins is that the former stick to a magnet while the latter doesn't.

Scrap metal recyclers take advantage of this difference to separate the two types of metals from a truckload of mixed scrap metal. They often use a huge and powerful magnet to separate the ferrous metals from the non-ferrous ones. Each of the metals then goes through further sorting to separate individual components for recycling. 

Prepping and Processing 

The metals that have been separated for recycling are cleaned to remove foreign materials, such as paint and paper. They are then shredded and squashed into a compact size, melted in a large furnace and purified to ensure the end product is of high quality.

The molten, purified metal is then cooled, solidified and turned into the desired shapes.

The above overview of the scrap metal recycling process should help you gain some insight into what happens to your metal material when you leave it at the scrap metal recycling centre. For more information, consult a scrap metal recycling centre near you.