When it comes to the metal industry, recycling scrap metal is a big part of it. A lot of the metal sheets you’ll use with your sheet metal machinery will most likely be made from recycled metal – so we think it’s important that you understand the scrap metal recycling process to gain a better understanding.

What is the process?

Simply put, scrap metal recycling is taking any piece of ferrous or non-ferrous scrap metal and taking it to a yard where they crush it, shred it, separate it and smelt it so it can then be repurposed and given a second lease on life. Scrap metal can be old fencing, a car or even just old wires/cabling. The reason the metal is crushed and shredded is that it can be easily moved along conveyor belts. Each type of metal has its own furnace to ensure there’s no cross-contamination.

The benefits of using recycled metal

Using recycled metal is actually a lot more economical since most metals don’t lose their properties when they’re recycled – which means they’re just as good as freshly created metal using virgin ore. This makes recycled metal a highly desirable material that can be used for several things.

A lot of everyday products and infrastructure are created using recycled metal – but you wouldn’t know the difference. Recycled sheet metal also comes at a cheaper price. This is because there aren’t as many resources that go into its production compared to mining fresh ore. Of course, a huge benefit of recycled metal is its environmental impact.

The environmental impact

Recycling scrap metal is a far better option for the environment than creating metal using virgin ore. This is because the recycling process itself doesn’t generate nearly enough pollution or wastes as many resources in comparison to mining. In fact, 40% less water is used when recycling scrap metal. 

The furnaces used at scrap metal plants are also specially designed to mitigate the amount of pollution that they exude. If you couple this with the fact that most metals can be constantly recycled without losing their quality, then you have a potentially highly sustainable industry. The more recycled metal is used, the less incentive there is to mine fresh ore.

The benefits don’t just stop there though, CO2 emissions are also drastically reduced in comparison to mining for ore. As well as the different type of machinery being used, fewer machines in total are used in the recycling process compared to mining operations. If scrap metal isn’t recycled, then it ends up in landfill – which presents its own set of problems. 

For starters, these yards are starting to become a problem because everything is piling up. On top of this, however, scrap metal can poison the soil over time which will lead to its own set of problems. An indirect benefit of recycling scrap metal is that natural ecosystems and habitats remain untouched.

Ferrous vs non-ferrous metals

When it comes to recycling scrap metal, there are two categories – ferrous and non-ferrous. These are defined by a few differences but the main one is that ferrous metals contain iron in one form or another whereas non-ferrous metals do not. Ferrous metals are usually much stronger and sturdier as well as magnetic (which makes for an easy identification method when surveying scrap metal). An example of a ferrous metal would be stainless steel.

Non-ferrous metals, such as aluminium or copper, tend to be less dense and also weigh less overall. They’re more malleable and lack magnetic properties. Their malleability makes them more suited for appliances such as electrical wiring and water piping.

Looking for sheet metal machinery?

ACRA Machinery is your one-stop-shop for all your sheet metal machinery needs. We offer an extensive range of products such as laser cutters and slitter folders – just to name a couple. With both new and used stock available, you’ll be pretty hard-pressed not to find a machine that suits your needs. Not sure exactly what you’re after? Our friendly experts will be happy to chat about your requirements.

We also offer premium repair and maintenance services to ensure your machines are kept in tip-top condition throughout their operational life. These services are administered at your factory to make things easier for you.

If you’d like to know more about our sheet metal machinery services, then please get in touch with us by filling out the contact sheet on our website or calling 03 9794 6675.