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Scrap Metal

Last updated date: 28th May 2024
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What is Scrap Metal?

Scrap metal is defined as the used metals, which are an important source of alloys and industrial metals, especially in the production of copper, steel, aluminium, lead, and zinc. Fewer amounts of nickel, tin, magnesium and precious metals are also recovered from the scrap.

Processing of Scrap Metal

Scrap metal originates both in residential and business environments. Typically a "scrapper" will advertise their services to remove the scrap metal conveniently for people who do not need it.

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Often, the scrap is taken to a wrecking yard (also called a junkyard, scrapyard, or the breaker's yard), where it can be processed for later melting into the products. A wrecking yard, based on its location, can allow customers to browse their lot and purchase items prior they are sent to the smelters, although usually, several scrap yards that deal in vast amounts of scrap don't, instead selling whole units like machinery or engines by weight, regardless of whether or not they're working.

Typically, customers are needed to supply all of their labour and own tools to extract parts, and a few scrapyards may require waiving liability first for personal injury before entering. Also, several scrapyards sell bulk metals (such as stainless steel) by weight, often at prices that are substantially below the retail purchasing costs of the same pieces.

Often, a scrap metal shredder can be used to recycle items having various other materials in combination with steel. Some examples are given as automobiles and white goods such as stoves, refrigerators, clothes washers. These items are the labour-intensive types to manually sort things like copper, plastic, brass, and aluminium. By shredding into small pieces relatively, the steel may easily be separated out magnetically. The non-ferrous waste stream needs other techniques to sort.

Typically, in contrast to the wrecking yards, scrapyards sell all the things by weight instead of by item. The primary value of the scrap to the scrapyard is what the smelter will give them for it, rather than the value of whatever shape the metal can be in. on the other hand; an auto wrecker would price exactly similar scrap according to what the item does, regardless of what it weighs. 

If a wrecker typically cannot sell something above the metal value in it, then they would take it to the scrapyard and sell it in terms of weight. Equipment having the parts of different metals can be purchased at a price often below either of the metals because of saving the scrapyard and the labour of metal separation before shipping them to be recycled.


Scrap prices may differ markedly over time and in various locations. Often, the prices are negotiated among the sellers and buyers either directly or indirectly over the Internet. Prices that are displayed as the market prices are not the ones that recyclers will see at the scrap yards. The other prices are either ranges or older and not frequently updated. A few scrap websites of yards have updated scrap prices.

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In the United States, scrap prices are reported in a handful of publications, including the American Metal Market, depending on confirmed sales and reference sites as well, such as Auctions and Scrap Metal Prices. Also, the Non-US domiciled publications, like The Steel Index, report on the United States scrap price that has become increasingly essential to the global export markets. Also, the directories of the Scrap yards are used by recyclers to find facilities in the United States and Canada, allowing the users to get in contact with yards.

Benefits of Recycling

According to research conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, recycling scrap metals may be quite beneficial to the environment. When recycled scrap metal is substituted for virgin iron ore, the following results can be obtained:

  • 75% savings in energy,

  • 86% reduction in air pollution,

  • 40% reduction in water use, and

  • 97% reduction in mining wastes.

Each one ton of new steel is made from scrap steel saves:

  • 625 kg of coal,

  • 1,115 kg of iron ore,

  • 53 kg of limestone

Energy savings from the other metals include:

  • Copper scrap savings of 85% energy,

  • Aluminium scrap savings of 95% energy,

  • Zinc savings of 60% energy,

  • Lead savings of 65% energy.


There is a great potential available in the scrap metal industry for accidents, where a hazardous material present in the scrap causes injury, environmental damage, or even death. A classic example is given as radioactivity in scrap; the Mayapuri radiological accident and the Goiânia accident were incidents involving radioactive materials. Toxic metals such as beryllium, mercury, cadmium, and toxic materials such as asbestos may pose dangers to personnel and the contaminating materials intended for metal smelters as well.

Several specialised scrapyard equipments, such as the alligator shear, which cuts metal using compactors, hydraulic power, and scrap metal shredders, are dangerous.

FAQs on Scrap Metal

1. Explain about Metal Recycling Industry.

Answer: The metal recycling industry encompasses a diverse range of metals. The more frequently recycled metals are given as iron scrap (ISS), scrap steel, aluminium, lead, stainless steel, zinc, and copper. There exist two major categories of metals: ferrous and non-ferrous. Metals that contain iron in them are called ferrous.

2. What are Exotic Metals?

Answer: Exotic metals hold rare elements such as mercury, cobalt, tungsten, titanium, beryllium, zirconium, and many more. A few types of metals are radioactive, and these may be formed or "naturally occurring" by the nuclear reactions. Metals that have been exposed to radioactive sources may also become radioactive in settings such as research laboratories, medical environments, and nuclear power plants.

3. Give the Importance of the Scrap Metal.

Answer: Scarp metals hold immense importance in the iron and steel scrap industries. Some of its pros are: Scarp metals are the cheap and most easily available feed metal sources for iron and steel making; replacement of hot metal with steel scrap during the steelmaking saves more cost and energy.

4. Explain Recovery vs. Recycling.

Answer: Recycling of board and paper makes sense both from an economic and an environmental standpoint. It means the efficient use of raw material from the forests, a reduction in waste, and energy savings. Also, it plays its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are generated in landfills.

Recovery is defined as the collection of used board, paper, and delivery to a reprocessing mill. Sometimes, it can also denote the process of recycling.