How Does Metal Recycling Work?

If metal accounts for a large percentage of your waste materials, you need to know how metal recycling works. The good news is that metal is a material that can be readily recycled and reused without too much hassle.

We offer metal collection for those who need help managing their commercial waste stream. Professional waste management helps you to kickstart the recycling process and avoid contributing to landfills.

We offer metal collection for those who need help managing their commercial waste stream. Professional waste management helps you to kickstart the recycling process and avoid contributing to landfills.

Our Total Waste Management service applies magic before waste leaves your site. Our experts work with you to identify and segregate waste as early as possible. By analysing your various waste streams and processes, we aim to find solutions to manage your waste more efficiently, drive out costs and even generate rebates from waste materials.

Using innovation and looking at your processes differently, we adhere to the waste hierarchy, starting by eliminating waste where possible. For any residual waste, we aim to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible before materials leave your site.

Interested in reading more about this? Learn about all the waste streams we cater for.

Is Metal Recycling Easy?

Unlike other materials such as plastic, metal can be recycled continuously. As a robust raw material, metal recycling never alters its original properties — even if you’re working with ferrous or non-ferrous metals. Ferrous metals like steel are often recycled more frequently. This is often why you’ll hear people in the scrap industry talk about a scarcity of scrap steel. Despite this, if you’re producing scrap non-ferrous metal — such as aluminium and copper — you’ll still be able to get involved in recycling.

Most metal types that you’ll be familiar with are highly recyclable. These metals include brass, gold and silver. So while you might have to be more considered when it comes to choosing other raw materials, you won’t have to be as selective with metal.

This is why scrap metal is seen as desirable — these metals can be exchanged for money or other valuable items. Needless to say, since the metal recycling process is so easy, leaving you with the same quality of metal as a result, the value of metal never decreases, regardless of how many times it has been recycled. This will ultimately save your business money, allowing you to reduce your production cost and convert it into a cheaper collection cost.

Companies are also motivated by the environmental status recycling gives them, resulting in a reduced commercial carbon footprint. But how? Metal recycling reduces the need for manufacturing new raw materials (which uses precious resources like coal). New metals — those without a history of recycling — are called virgin materials and are often seen as wasteful for businesses to pursue.


  • • There is no limit to metal recycling. You can effectively reuse scrap metal infinitely and it will never decrease the metal’s quality or manipulate its properties.
  • • Metal recycling helps to drive down production cost by converting this spend into cheaper collection rates. Recycling metals is better than the creation of an entirely new product.
  • • Metal is an area to focus on if you’re concerned about your business’s energy consumption. Recycling provides a reduction in energy by substituting the need for new sources of metal.

How is Metal Recycled?

There are four key stages that metals go through to be recycled. As a supplier, you won’t have to worry about these operations, but it is helpful to understand all of the requirements of metal recycling. Recycling facilities follow strict regulations to ensure that the process isn’t harmful to the environment. Operators will also need to be aware of the dangers involved, as the peak of metal recycling involves very hot temperatures. Above all, health and safety come first when learning about metal recycling, as there are many elements and machinery involved.

Segregation: Metal recycling begins with the segregation of scrap metal. When metals are collected, they often arrive at recycling facilities mixed. For this reason, the first stage of metal recycling always focuses on metal organisation, taking into account the type, weight and size of metal. This step is sometimes named media separation, referring to the process of identifying different metal densities. Sorters will also sift through scrap metals to remove any accidental product, like rogue plastics, which require a different type of recycling process.

This sorting process is crucial to ensure the purification of the load. It also helps to distinguish any valuable metals that can be set aside for eventual sale to scrap yards. When metal recycling was first introduced, metals were sorted manually, but today, much of this sorting is automated, using magnets and sensors to detect different types of metals as they glide past on a conveyor belt. These newfound methods of metal processing make the entire operation more efficient. In the long term, this significantly slows non-essential product manufacturing and helps to meet the recycling industry’s demands. This modern technology can help to recover up to 95% of metals that are passed through yards to landfill.

Preparation: Alongside cleaning, metals are often shredded to decrease the time and energy it takes to complete the recycling process. This vital step comes after media separation and ensures each type of metal is as comparatively similar as possible. For example, aluminium is converted into thin sheets.

The whole point of converting metal stacks into small lumps is to make the process planet-friendly. Compacting metal in this way allows fewer emissions to be used in the burning process, something that’s often scrutinised in the metal recycling industry.

Burning: Once the shredding has taken place to make each metal a similar density, the handling process is officially finished. From here, metal is transported into a furnace and exposed to high temperatures. The heat eventually forms molten metal (the desired outcome of metal recycling).

Specialist equipment such as a furnace is used in metal recycling to form molten metal that is easily manipulated into new products

The time it takes to successfully melt the metal depends on the metal’s melting point. Decreasing the size of metal does speed up the process, but ultimately, the types of metals in the furnace will dictate how long it takes to complete the process. For example, a metal such as Zinc has a relatively low melting point (419.5°C), while iron has a much higher melting point (1,510°C).

Formation: Metals that have been released from the furnace are produced as ingots — the material in its pure form. These ingots can then be purified and shaped for their next purpose. Metals are often formed into bars or are transported as liquid or powder to manufacturing facilities.

As we know, metals can be repurposed indefinitely and will never change their property. As such, recycled metals can be sent directly to suppliers and factories for usage. These sites then manufacture new products using these recycled materials, just as they would with virgin metal.

Specialist equipment such as a furnace is used in metal recycling to form molten metal that is easily manipulated into new products.

How to Start Recycling Your Waste Metals

Axil provides waste management services to help you responsibly dispose of commercial waste. Among these are the waste streams that we handle, including metal recycling. If you opt for this service, you’ll benefit from a streamlined management process as well as the transportation of used goods.

We also offer account management services, should you want to outsource your waste obligations completely, and equipment supply if you’re looking to hire suitable kit or containers for waste metal collection.

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To gain a clearer understanding of your waste operations, we will visit to carry out a detailed site audit.

Our waste management experts will understand your waste streams and the challenges you face— and develop a service proposal tailored to accommodate your needs.

We will explain how our innovative solutions can re-engineer your waste to reduce your costs and increase your recycling.