Pros And Cons Of Recycling Scrap Metal
in Metal Recycling by Dave
Did you know that metal is amongst the most recyclable materials in existence? It’s durability and physical properties mean that it can be melted down, purified and reused over and over again. The process of recycling scrap metal, however, is sometimes more complex then that of other materials (like paper and plastic). There are pros and cons to this approach that you must first consider:
- Less Waste
The most obvious advantage of recycling is that it produces far less waste – metal that would otherwise end up in landfill is instead able to be reused. This is especially useful as it takes a long time to break down naturally when simply thrown away.
- Source of Income
Some people have found that they can make a significant amount of money by salvaging scrap and selling it on to recyclers. Certain types of metal – like copper – are more valuable than others, but it’s always possible to make a profit if you collect enough.
- Less Mining
Recycling removes the need to find new ore via mining. The process of extracting metal from the earth is expensive, time consuming and very energy intensive. By keeping mining to a minimum, recycling can actually benefit parts of the world that are far from where processes occurred.
- More Transport
Recycling requires an extensive network of trucks, sorting facilities and factories. This means more carbon-emitting vehicles are being placed on our roads, as well as adds a step to the overall process. Since metal is heavy, it costs a lot more to transport than other materials.
- Energy Usage
The facilities that transform scrap back into a pure, usable form actually consume huge amounts of energy in order to do so. This is, in part, because metal is so durable – it takes a great deal of heat to melt it down, and even more energy to properly filter and recast it.
- Manual Separation
As of yet, we have been unable to develop technology that allows us to automatically sort the various types of metal coming in. Instead, it all must be done manually. This can be a time consuming task and one fraught with the possibility for human error.
As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons to recycling scrap metal. Although the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, you need to consider the process from all angles before deciding whether it’s something worthwhile pursuing or not. The good news is that many of the cons discussed here can be counteracted through additional processes if desired.