Are There Any Disadvantages of Recycling Metals?

Recycling is great for business and the environment, but there are some disadvantages of recycling metals that you should know about.


Businesses generate waste all day, the majority of which consists of materials that are reusable or recyclable. We help organisations become greener by recycling cardboard, paper, glass, wood and plastic. We also help companies to manage and sort their metal.

The benefits of recycling are clear — it’s good for the environment, it helps to reduce our carbon footprints and it’s good for business. After all, employees want to work for environmentally conscious businesses, and customers want to support such organisations — it’s win-win. 

Metal recycling is common-place. It uses less energy than metal production, and metal can withstand continual recycling. What’s more, a wide range of metals can be recycled, including stainless steel, iron, zinc, copper and aluminium. Recycling metal comes with a whole host of benefits. By recycling metal, we’re able to preserve natural resources and make the best use of raw materials while saving money. Many companies recycle metals because it’s cheaper than sourcing them, driving down production costs.

Related: Five Reasons Why It’s Important to Recycle Metals

But is it all that straightforward? What are the disadvantages of recycling metals? Let’s look into this and discover how a total waste-management company can help you.


Contaminated Metals Can’t Be Recycled

You can’t simply assume that all recyclable metals can be recycled without issue. Some metals become contaminated, meaning they are unable to be recycled. Take motor-oil cans for example. The metal in question has come into contact with harmful toxins — even if you clean the cans, you can’t guarantee that all the chemicals have been removed. As a result, it would be unwise to recycle that metal.

Knowing what is considered hazardous waste is important. It is toxic and corrosive, and organisations need to know how to deal with their hazardous waste, as well as the containers that once held it. Inappropriate disposal can result in real harm to both people and the environment — to learn more, read our article on hazardous waste examples businesses commonly produce.


Some Metals Are Energy-Intensive to Recycle

Incredibly, recycling aluminium saves more than 90% of the energy needed to make a comparable amount of new aluminium from raw materials. Having said this, the process is still energy-intensive. Aluminium has a high melting point — roughly 660 degrees Celsius. This means we’re still putting a strain on natural resources to recycle this metal.


As previously mentioned, most metals can be readily recycled without any loss in their quality. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all metals. Not all metals can be recycled, usually because they’re radioactive or toxic, meaning they are too hazardous to be recycled.

Two examples of metals that can’t and shouldn’t be recycled are lead and mercury. This includes anything that may contain these metals, including batteries, thermostats, thermometers, certain light bulbs and even pocket calculators. Mercury is a highly toxic element, and when handled incorrectly, it can do serious damage to our brains, kidneys and lungs. The symptoms and issues of lead poisoning are well-known, including high blood pressure, muscle and joint pain, memory difficulties and mood disorders to name a few.

Metal recycling needs to be taken seriously and appropriate precautions need to be taken — the price of negligence can be high.


That Doesn’t Mean Your Business Can Bin Those Items

Although not all metals are recyclable, that doesn’t mean those metals belong in general waste. Items such as old computer screens, batteries and fluorescent light bulbs need to be disposed of properly to avoid causing harm to people and the environment.

Related: Are Batteries Classed as Hazardous Waste?


How Axil Can Help with Your Metal Recycling

If you want to recycle your metals, it’s best to employ the services of a total waste-management company that knows how to streamline the process. Axil can help with effective segregation. We can also help through offering in-house team training and awareness while offsetting costs through rebates on recycling. Our commitment to recycling and sustainability has even led to Axil being shortlisted for the “Partnership Excellence Commercial” category of the National Recycling Awards 2020. This category exists to recognise working relationships that go above and beyond contractual arrangements to manage waste effectively.

By hiring Axil, you’ll end up saving time (and therefore money) through improved management. We offer our clients hands-on support and advice while delivering continual improvement and helping them to realise their “zero to landfill” business goals.

When done right, metal recycling can be hugely beneficial in many ways. As experts, we can advise and facilitate to ensure full environmental and legal compliance.

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