Iron Recycling

Scrap Iron and Steel – Don’t Dump it!

When we talk about “ferrous metals’ we mean iron and its alloys – particularly steel. Many ferrous materials are magnetic – but not all. Steel is an iron alloy which contains carbon and is recycled more than any other material globally.  In 2008 alone, steel production amounted to more than 1.3 billion tons. 500 million tons of steel originated from scrap metal. The most commonly thrown out items come from processes that are industrial products which are no longer of any use because they have lost their function, such as appliances, containers, construction materials and industrial machinery. While the items themselves are no longer useful, the steel from which they are made still has some value.

Today, scrap metal is part of the raw material of the steelmaking industry. It has improved the economic viability of the industry and has reduced its environmental impact worldwide. When compared with iron ore extraction, the use of secondary ferrous metals has significantly reduced CO2 emissions, water and energy use and air pollution. In a nutshell, steel recycling makes the use of steel far more efficient and makes better use of the Earth’s dwindling natural resources.

Metal recycling takes place in the form of a pyramid, with a lot of small companies operating that collect scrap. These supply a smaller number of larger multinationals.

The first stage of the recycling process is the sorting. This is relatively easy, as iron and steel are attracted to a magnet so that it can be separated easily when it has been mixed with other recyclable products such as paper. A recycling facility uses magnetic belts to do the sorting job. Different types of steel do not have to be completely separate from each other.

Shredding takes place with the use of rotating magnetic drums which rotate and separate the iron and steel so they are not mixed with other metals. Other separating processes could be required such as with steel cans. These are protected by a layer of tin that has to be removed so that it can be recycled separately.

Shearing involves the use of hydraulic machinery which is used at enormous pressure to cut through the sort of thick heavy steel which may have been used in ship construction or railroads.

Baling is used to compact used iron and steel products into very large blocks to allow for easier handling and transportation.

Usefulness of ferrous metals

Steel is perfect for recycling as its initial physical properties are maintained during the recycling process and it can be recycled over and over again. Recycled steel can be used to make the same products as the original material.

Uses of recycled iron and steel include:

  • Roads
  • Railways
  • Buildings
  • Containers
  • Cans
  • Electrical goods
  • Vehicles
  • Screws, nuts and bolts


What recycling of ferrous scrap can save

1 ton of recycled steel amounts to a saving of:

  • 2,500 pounds of iron ore
  • 1,400 pounds of coal
  • 120 pounds of limestone
  • 642 kWh of energy
  • 1.8 barrels of oil
  • 85 cubic feet of landfill space

If you have any ferrous metal that you no longer need, dilleroadrecycling can offer you a good price and will ensure that your unwanted product will not go to waste.