• The recycling of metals has the potential to cut the production of greenhouse gas emissions by 300-500 million tons.

  • Using scrap metal in lieu of virgin ore generates 97% less mining waste and uses 40% less water, according to the National Institute of Health.

  • The amount of energy saved using various recycled metals compared to virgin ore is up to:

    • 92 % for aluminium

    • 90 % for copper

    • 56 % for steel

  • Recycling metal creates 36 times more jobs.

  • The recycling industry, in general, generates billion's of dollar annually and employs millions of workers across the World.

  • Recycling one ton of aluminium saves 8 tons of bauxite ore, and recycling one ton of steel saves 2,500 pounds (1134 kg) of iron ore, a ½ ton of coal, and 120 pounds (54 kg) of limestone. By recycling one ton of steel, 40% of the water used for production is conserved, and 86% of air emissions and 76% of water pollution are reduced.

  • Recycling metals also reduce ore mining waste by 97%.

Metal Recycling Facts

What Is Scrap Metal Recycling?

Scrap metal recycling involves the recovery and processing of scrap metal from end-of-life products or structures, as well as from manufacturing scrap so that it can be introduced as a raw material in the production of new goods. Scrap metal recycling involves the number of steps such as recovery, sorting, brokering, baling, shearing, and smelting. Businesses may perform several such activities.

The scrap metal recycling industry embraces the range of economic activities encompassed in scrap metal recycling. Scrap metal recycling is more environmentally friendly than extracting and processing virgin material. Metal recycling is an activity undertaken by entrepreneurs such as scrap metal collectors, as well as by a range of companies large and small that in the aggregate, comprise the scrap recycling industry.

When talking about scrap metal recycling, it is important to differentiate between the two main categories of scrap metal: ferrous metal, and nonferrous metal.

Ferrous Scrap Recycling:

Steel is the most recycled material both in New Zealand and worldwide. Obsolete ferrous scrap is recovered from automobiles, steel structures, household appliances, railroad tracks, ships, farm equipment and other sources. In addition, scrap generated from industrial and manufacturing sources accounts for approximately half of the ferrous scrap supply.

Non-Ferrous Scrap Recycling:

Non-Ferrous metals, including aluminium, copper, lead, nickel, tin, zinc and others, are among the few materials that do not degrade or lose their chemical or physical properties in the recycling process. As a result, nonferrous metals have the capacity to be recycled an infinite number of times. Non-Ferrous scrap is collected from a wide array of consumer, commercial and industrial sources: everything from copper and precious metal circuitry in electronic devices, to soft-drink containers, automobile batteries and radiators, aluminium siding, aeroplane parts and more.

The Scrap Metal Supply Chain:

The collection of scrap metal is hierarchical and can start with scrap metal collectors who pick up small quantities of scrap for sale to scrap yards, as well as many other scrap business roles. Community recycling programs, electronics recycling and larger commercial generators of scrap metal also provide other conduits of scrap.

  • The recycling rate is a very important measure in terms of landfill diversion. Scrap metal has been recycled for thousands of years because it has been long recognized as being a more efficient process than mining and processing new ore. Recycling rates for metal are generally high, due to its value. For example, ferrous metals have a recovery rate as follows:

    • for cars: 70 per cent

    • for appliances: 90 per cent

    • for steel cans: 66.8 per cent

    • for structural steel: 98 per cent

    • for reinforcement steel: 70 per cent

  • However, there is still much work to be done in raising the recycling rate for metals. 
    For example, a U.N. report has pointed out that less than one-third of 60 metals reviewed have a recovery rate of more than 50 per cent. The report made recommendations to improve recycling rates, including:


  • Encouraging product design that makes disassembly and material separation easier
    Improving waste management and recycling infrastructure for complex end-of-life
    products in developing countries and emerging economies


  • In industrialized countries, addressing the fact that many metal-containing products are ‘hibernating’ in places likes drawers and closets and others, such as mobile phones, are all too often ending up in dustbins

  • The ongoing improvement of recycling technologies and collection systems to keep pace with “ever more complex products created with an increasingly diverse range of metals and alloys.”