With the growth of metal recycling over the past 20 years, the amount of waste that is produced by human activities around the world has more than tripled since the early 1990’s. In the developed world, efforts were made from the early 70’s to reduce the amount of waste, especially the metals, which landed in the landfills. However, due to lack of appropriate technologies, little metal waste was getting recycled.
The introduction of curbside programs in the US in the 80’s made it possible for people to metal recycle small metal pieces. By 1995, the rates at which aluminum cans were being recycled across the U.S. reached 63% with California leading with 80% of all cans used. In the same year, the government opens more than 10,000 recycling centers national wide. Among the centers are yards for recycling metallic waste and scrap metal from cars that are written off.
Around 1997, Germany set up the first infrared sorting machine that enabled single stream garbage collection. Unlike the earlier, metal could be separated from plastic without human intervention. Some cities adopted the single-stream waste collection .i.e. people do not have to separate the waste when taking it for recycling.
In 2003, San Francisco built a $38 million recycling facility. It started receiving over 200 tons of metals a day. Different technologies used to separate aluminum cans from other types of metals.
In the same year, Dell pioneered by offering to recycle all electronic waste from all its electronics. A few years after that, other electronic manufacturers follow the lead and start their e-waste recycling facilities.
Scientific research that shows a connection between global warm and wastes pushed up the number of people willing to recycle their waste. As a result, many more firms opened their offices across America taking up metal waste. By 2010, over eight states had passed a law requiring unwanted electronics be recycled. A similar law was passed in Japan and the European Union.
By 2014, there were over 600 million pounds of consumer electronics recycled in the USA. This number had increased from 125 million pounds in 2011. There is also a large market for recycled metal products by this time. Unlike in the past where this information was hidden, the information that certain products are made of recycled materials is displayed on the item. In the same line, there is an increase in the number of people using antique metal for landscaping as well as decorating their living quarter. By 2016, the metal recycling industry was worth than a billion dollars.