Recycling metal is a simple step that you can take to help the environment and reduce the cost of manufacturing items. Recycling facilities use several methods to recycle metal, depending on the type of metal and the type of items recycled. Metal recycling methods have allowed for more recycled material to be used in manufactured products.
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Steel is one of the most commonly recycled metals because it has both industrial and commercial uses. Steel recycling methods take advantage of steel's magnetic properties to sort and process the metal. Because recycling facilities and machines can easily separate steel from other recyclable materials, steel does not require any special sorting or preparation, making it cost-efficient to recycle.
The process of recycling steel starts with adding the sorted steel to molten iron and heating it in a furnace to 1,700 degrees Celsius. The resulting metal cools and machines roll it into large coils. These coils are then sent to manufacturing facilities to be used to produce new items containing steel.
Many consumer products contain recyclable aluminium, but the most commonly encountered item is the aluminium can. The aluminium recycling process starts by shredding the cans or other items to remove paint and other coatings. Furnaces then melt the shredded aluminium, after which the metal cools in moulds to shape it for easier transportation. Recycling aluminium uses about 5 per cent of the energy and materials that are used to make it originally. Aluminium foil follows a slightly different process because the aluminium alloy used in foil is somewhat different.
Electronics such as computers, appliances and phones contain several other types of metals that can be recycled. The metals in electronics require a more elaborate recycling process, because they can be difficult to extract from the item. Computers can contain several kinds of valuable and difficult-to-manufacture metals. Magnets in computers can contain nickel or cobalt, and circuit boards can contain gold, silver and platinum in addition to other common metals such as steel and aluminium.
Recycling facilities use several methods to recycle metal found in electronics. The items are shredded, then sorted using magnets and electric currents to separate the metals.
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