How does scrap metal get recycled into new material?

Written by geoffrey weed
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How does scrap metal get recycled into new material?
(Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)

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How is Scrap Metal Reclaimed?

Scrap metal is reclaimed through several different processes. People and companies can sell their scrap metal to be recycled at recycling centres. Scrap metal is also reclaimed from junkyards and from products that are simply discarded. Many junkyard cars, for example, are harvested for their metal content and recycled. No matter how the scrap metal is initially reclaimed, it then heads to a processing plant to begin the actual recycling process.

How is Scrap Metal Sorted for Processing?

Of course, once scrap metal is collected and reclaimed, it is often mixed in with other non-metallic materials such as plastic, wood or rubber. In order to sort the metal out from these other materials, the recycled material generally is shredded in a massive industrial shredding machine and then sorted. The sorting process usually involves either magnetic processes or simply sifting processes. At the end of the sorting, the recycling operation is left with a nearly pure form of scrap metal.

How is Scrap Metal Actually Recycled Into New Products?

After the scrap metal is sorted, it's entered into a blast furnace that burns at extremely high temperatures. The exact temperature of the furnace varies depending on the metal that is being recycled. The blast furnace melts the scrap metal into its molten (liquid) state and also helps to burn off any impurities or other materials left over from the sorting stage of the process. After the metal is liquefied, it can then be poured into moulds for use in new products.

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