Why Recycling Scrap Metal is Important
Messages encouraging recycling are all over. Indeed, scrap metal recycling is big business getting even bigger each year. The US recycles 150 million tons of scrap metal each year including 85 million of steel, 5.5 million of aluminum , 1.8 million of copper, and 420,000 of zinc. Other metals commonly recycles are bronze, brass, chrome and magnesium. The benefits of recycling scrap metal cannot be overstated. Economic and environmental benefits from recycling, makes it even more necessary.
Natural resources preservation
Metallic ores are finite resources and the rate at which they have been depleted in less than 200 years since the industrial age, is worrying. Recycling what is already available preserves these ores for future generations. Research by ISRI has shown that by recycling 1 ton of aluminum, 5 tons of bauxite are saved. Recycling 1 ton of steel preserves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.
Enormous amounts of energy go into refining natural ores which in turn means burning more coal, or petroleum products which contributes to pollution. Recycling on the other hand requires less amounts of energy burning less fossil fuel and reducing the carbon load. The Institute of Scrap recycling Industries (ISRI) has estimated cutting down of greenhouse gas emissions by 300 -500 million parts yearly can be achieved by scrap metal recycling.
A lot of energy is also saved by scrap metal recycling. For instance, in 2012 it was estimated 1 ton of recycled aluminum saves 14 megawatt hours of electricity, while the energy saved from recycling steel is enough to power 18 million homes.
Recycling also avoids the harmful effects that come with mining including ecological damage, groundwater pollution, habitat destruction and air pollution among others. Recycling saves the need for destructive mining practices like open pit mining which can take tens of years to remedy.
Recycling also gives cleaner living spaces. Scrap metal is bulky and fills up available living space. When put to good use, more space is created while eliminating a hazard.
Higher demand in scrap metals means that scrap metal pricing becomes more lucrative year after year. In the US, the scrap metal recycling generates more than $90 billion annually and creates more than 85,000 jobs. In addition, $7.5 billion of steel and iron, $3 billion of aluminum and $4 billion of copper are exported mainly to Japan and China. Individual scrap metal dealers are making huge amounts of money from in-demand metals like copper.