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Can iron be recycled in the UK?

  Wednesday, 22 November 2023

Iron is one of the most widely recycled metals in the world, and in the UK iron is in high demand for its scrap value. Find out more below about the constituents of iron, how iron is recycled, what common items it is found in and where you can recycle iron in the UK.

Pile of rusted scrap metal

Is iron a ferrous or non-ferrous metal?

Iron is a ferrous metal. In fact all ferrous metals contain iron of some sort. Cast iron and wrought iron are known for their tensile strength and durability. Other ferrous metals include engineering steel and carbon steel. Iron is sought after because it can be used to create other metals like steel, which is an iron alloy. Globally, iron and steel are the second and third most recycled ferrous metal. In fact, between 25% and 100% of all steel products contain recycled content.

Scrap iron can also be used to make copper, through an extraction or displacement process. As iron is often a more widely available scrap metal than copper, this makes iron even more valuable to scrapyards.

How is iron recycled?

Scrapyards sort the metal they receive if it is in the form of mixed metals. Magnets and sensors are used to separate the recyclable metals into ferrous and non-ferrous metal types. Ferrous metals are magnetic so separation and sorting is a relatively straightforward process. The next stage is shredding, which makes the melting process easier by converting aluminium into small sheets and steel into steel blocks. 

The shredded metal is then melted down, purified to ensure it is free of contaminants, and finally solidified and formed into specific shapes such as bars ready for its next life as a recycled product.

What kind of products contain recyclable iron?

You will find iron all over your household, but particularly in the kitchen. Pots, pans and cutlery are some of the most common items made of iron. Look in your shed for those old tools you don’t use anymore – hammers, spanners and wrenches, for example. Iron is found in all kinds of old automotive parts, but less so in modern cars, so know what you’re looking for. Tradesmen will also know that there is a significant amount of iron used in plumbing pipes and pipe fittings.  

Can you recycle iron at ASM?

Iron is widely recycled at scrapyards, and we accept all grades of iron that can be segregated and shredded. We use the latest processing technology to make sure our sites and processes are energy efficient. ASM is fully licensed by the Environment Agency and accredited with ISO 14001 and 9001.

To get a valuation for your scrap iron or any other recyclable metal, contact one of our depots or email us at info at asm-recycling dot co dot uk. We use the most advanced digital scales to provide you with a fair price, and if you have too much metal to bring by yourself we can arrange for a scrap metal collection at your convenience.

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