Landfills are not a bottomless resource for human trash. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated in a study that only 27.8% of ferrous metals were recycled out of the 10.5 million tons of steel sent to landfills in 2018. That's why it is important to keep recycling such durable and noncompostable materials.
What Is Ferrous Steel?
Ferrous steel metals have a large amount of iron in them making them more durable. They are best used for the construction of buildings and bridges, and many other architectural and industrial structures. Some common types are cast iron, wrought iron, alloy steel, and carbon steel, all of which are recyclable.
Non-ferrous metals do not have an iron base and tend to have more flexible alloy elements in them, making them more ductile and more rust-resistant. Non-ferrous metals can be reused or recycled too, but ferrous steel tends to be reprocessed the most.
Although known for its strength, some types of ferrous steel are more brittle. Because they generally have a high carbon content, some varieties are more prone to rust and corrosion if exposed to moisture and other elements. There are lower carbon exceptions, however. Wrought iron has a higher iron content, and stainless steel has a chromium alloy mixture, which individually increases their rust resistance.
How Do You Recycle Ferrous Metals?
Steel is valuable for its capabilities on top of being able to be reused and recycled more than once. Recycling your ferrous metal is more cost-effective as it requires less energy to renew steel and other metals instead of mining and manufacturing more. Ferrous steel quality doesn't degrade during the recycling process, making it better for the environment and your wallet!
It's best to divide up the types of ferrous metals you have before bringing them to a plant or scrapyard for recycling, although there are sorting machines out there. By separating the different metal types, the clean and higher valued metals, and the dirty or lesser valued ones, you can help get the most out of your scraps.
Once your materials are divided, they will be processed by getting torn apart, remelted, and cast before cooling and being ready for new use. This procedure takes less energy than what is used for raw metals to be made usable. Although not all metals can be easily separated and recycled, it is important to do what is possible, especially with general metal recycling being less commonplace than it could be. Ferrous steel is a valuable commodity. Reusing it to save energy and earn some side money makes it even more versatile than it already is as a material.
If you want to learn more about how you can recycle ferrous steel, reach out to a local ferrous steel recycling plant or steel mill for details.