Scrap metal recycling has played a big role in our economy for over many decades. In the 1800s, new immigrants and native-born Americans collected, recycled and sold scrap for survival. Ever since, an ever-increasing amount of scrap metal now makes its way through the recycling process, as a wide range of industries and individuals increasingly understand the merits of metal recycling. Currently, many types of metal are recycled with the advancement in technology and increased efforts in the collection of recyclable items.

What are the advantages of Recycling Metal?

Economic Benefits

Numerous industries and people alike benefit from metal recycling. Industries that use metal for manufacturing mostly end up with piles of scrap after fabricating their products. Talking from a commercial view, why recycle metal scraps and deal with the inconvenience when they could easily be discarded? The truth is, this metal scraps can be turned into cash. Selling this industrial scrap to recycling facilities generates cool revenue.

While consumers can also make money selling scrap metal, the scrap recycling industry’s biggest contribution to individuals is boosting the economy and job creation. Scrap metal recycling is a labour-intensive industry unto itself. According to research, the scrap industry and related suppliers support more than 470,000 good-paying jobs annually from about $105 billion in annual economic activity. In 2014 it generated about $4.4 billion in state and local taxes and $6.76 billion in federal taxes paid by the industry and its employees.

For a producer, the recycled metal is cheaper than newly mined metals from virgin ores. Using these lower-priced raw materials reduces the cost of production. This savings is passed on to customers in the competitive marketplace with lower-priced consumer goods. Automobiles, appliances, home furnishings and grocery packaging are among the many consumer goods that benefit from lower prices due to the use of recycled scrap metal.

Global Trade Balance

Because of the stiff competition in the scrap metal recycling industry, every year, the United States exports a significant amount of scrap metal. These exports are termed “scrap commodities” and contributes immensely to U.S. trade balances. In 2014, the U.S. exported, $21 billion in scrap commodities to 160 countries.

Conserves Natural Resources

While the driving force behind the recycling industry may have been economical in the beginning, the main beneficiary today is the environment. Basically, the use of scrap metals conserves natural resources. Most metals can be recycled repeatedly, without distorting their properties.

Reduces Energy Consumption

Another benefit of scrap metal versus mined metal ore is that scrap metal recycling uses considerably less energy. Fabricating usable metal from mined ore is extremely energy-intensive. For example, energy saved using aluminum scrap versus virgin materials is about 95 percent, according to ISRI.

Other Environmental Benefits

Recycling steel, aluminum, copper and other metals keeps these materials out of the waste stream, leading to less waste in landfills. Reducing landfill utilization in and of itself is helpful to the environment, but minimizing metals in landfills is particularly important because they can leach harmful chemicals.

Reducing both mining and energy consumption subsequently leads to other environmental benefits such as the reduction of air pollution and wastewater.