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How are scrap metals recycled?

Do you ever wonder what happens to your scrap metals after you drop them off at a recycling center like Metro Recycling? Learn how your aluminum cans, copper pipes, and sheet iron are recycled and turned into something new:

Step 1: Collecting and Sorting Scrap Metal

If you’ve ever visited one of Metro’s recycling facilities in Griffith, Valparaiso, or Blue Island, you know that each material has its own bin or section in the yard. Metro employees sort and organize scrap metals mainly to avoid contamination.

Step 2: Bale or Shred Metal

At a processing facility, scrap material is either baled or placed into a shredder. Some materials, such as copper tubing, radiators, PVC and aluminum siding, and junk shop (aluminum door frames and window frames) are baled.

How does a baler work?

After feeding scrap material into the baling machine, compression forms a bale. In a process called “resetting the cylinder,” high pressure oil is forced into cylinders at the top and sides of the baling machine, which contract the scrap into a rectangle. Then, the machine pushes out the compressed bale and the process can begin again.

How does a shredder work?

Others materials, such as scrap steel or sheet iron, are shredded at a processing facility.

Every shredder operates a little differently, but, generally speaking, the scrap material is fed into the shredder and then continues down a series of conveyer belts. The shredder then rips the scrap material apart using its teeth. Eddy current magnets separate contaminants like fabric, insulation, or plastic from the scrap metal. During the shredding process, workers often recover non-ferrous metals (metals containing no iron). In the scrap metal industry, we call the mixture of shredded, non-ferrous metals “Zorba.” Zorba contains mostly aluminum.

Step 3: Sell that Scrap Metal

Scrap yards can now sell the shredded and compressed metals to a buyer. The buyer can then turn your old metal into a completely new product. Give your scrap metals a second life and get paid to recycle at Metro Recycling.