Steel Recycling Guide: Why it’s Important for the Environment and Your Wallet

worker holding steel rebar made with steel from a scrap metal recycling yard

Steel Recycling Guide: Why it’s Important for the Environment and Your Wallet

Steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world, and for good reason. This metal shows up in nearly every aspect of modern life. From car and truck parts to chain link fencing to fireplace pokers, steel shows up all around your home, workplace, and community.

So often steel waste ends up in landfills after construction or remodeling projects, but recycling steel is an important step in providing a clean environment where you live. It can also have an economic benefit for yourself and your business.

If you’re ready to turn your scrap steel into cash and make a difference in the environment in your community, use this guide to get you started.

1. All steel can be recycled

No matter the condition of your steel materials, all steel can be recycled. Even rust cannot keep steel from being recycled because it retains a very high overall recycling rate. In 2014, this rate stood at 86 percent, which means the metallurgical properties of steel allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance from one product to another.

It’s also possible to recycle stainless steel. This material includes carbon steel and alloys, which occur when you combine the structure of multiple metals for different purposes. This is typically used to make the material stronger, harder to bend, and able to withstand higher temperatures. Carbon steel acts in the same way and is most often used to prevent smaller, thinner metal items from breaking under pressure.

For scrap metal recycling purposes, Roane Metals is able to accept any type of steel.

2. Where to find steel

Steel is a part of your everyday life in ways you may not even realize. Door handles, wrenches, hammers, horseshoes, sometimes even a kitchen sink can be made from steel.

Because this metal is so commonplace and can become unusable if too rusty, these commonplace items can easily work their way into a trash dump, especially on a job site. However, it’s financially and environmentally responsible to take that scrap metal to a scrap recycling facility.

Roane Metals has the means and infrastructure to handle your scrap steel, and other scrap metal, recycling needs.

3. Why recycling steel is important

As you read earlier, steel is an incredibly easy metal to recycle, yielding more than 80 percent of the original material. And as you also read earlier, recycling steel is an extremely efficient way to use the metal. Recycling steel provides around 73 percent of the energy needed to produce it from new raw materials, meaning less mining and producing new metals and a reduced carbon footprint.

The biggest impact of recycling steel, however, is in its pollution reduction.

According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, more than 80 million tons of steel are recycled each year in North America. In terms of environmental impact, for every ton of steel that is recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved. This ultimately results in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

A reduction in steel waste also results in less impact on plant life and groundwater. When steel materials are left in landfills, hard metals like nickel and chromium are absorbed and eventually work their way into groundwater sources. Steel materials also make the ground acidic, making it difficult for plant life to grow.

Recycling this metal at a scrap yard can go a long way toward preventing this negative environmental impact and giving it a new use instead.

4. Collecting and sorting steel for recycling

It’s imperative to protect yourself when sorting steel scrap. Especially if the metal is rusty, it’s critical to stay safe from cuts and scrapes that could lead to infections if left unchecked. Be sure to wear gloves (preferably leather) at the very least to protect your hands. It would also be prudent and safe to wear goggles to protect your eyes from small shards of steel and other metals that may become dislodged while moving scrap metal.

To see if your metal materials are indeed steel, use a magnet. Just pass your magnet over the object, and if it sticks, it’s a ferrous metal, meaning it’s either steel or iron. If it doesn’t stick, it’s likely either aluminum or chrome.

And for a quick myth buster, don’t worry about removing paper labels from steel soup or vegetable cans. These labels simply burn off during the recycling process.

5. Delivering your steel

This is the simple part. At Roane Metals, just bring your steel materials to us and we’ll turn around and allow these scrap metals to become another part of everyday life.

After the steel at our facility is collected and separated from other materials by a magnet, it’s then crushed into large bales. The bales of crushed steel are then shipped to steel mills to be melted in a furnace and made into new steel. Steel packaging, car bodies, appliances, and steel framing use a minimum average of 22 percent recycled steel, while products such as structural sections and bridge spans use virtually 100 percent recycled steel.

Scrap Metal Recycling in East Tennessee

Recycling your scrap steel and other scrap metals doesn’t have to be a complicated chore. By following these basic steps, recycling steel on your job site, demolition project, or other construction undertakings can transform scrap metal into cash and make a positive difference in the environment.

Here at Roane Metals Group, we want to make scrap metal recycling simple, easy, and convenient. We buy a wide range of metals at our two East Tennessee scrap yard locations in Rockwood and Crossville. If you have scrap metal that you’re ready to cash in, find the location nearest you and give your scrap metal new life.

To find out more about recycling your scrap, give us a call at 865-354-4282 today.