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What are different recycled metals used for?

  Friday, 13 May 2022

Scrap metals including aluminium, copper, and zinc are all metals that make up part of everyday life and are frequently recycled and reused multiple times to create new products. Some scrap metals are ‘reincarnated’ and turned into other items, while others can be repeatedly made into the same thing. Not only does it make economic sense to reuse and recycle materials where possible, but this process also helps cut down on CO2 emissions and air and water pollution.

If you’re new to the world of metal recycling, the number of different metals that are reused might be a bit surprising, especially as you may have some scrap metal in your possession that is worth trading in.

Here are just a few of the more surprising uses of recycled metals, and a quick overview of how you can recycle them with ASM.

What is recycled aluminium used for?

Aluminium is a permanently available resource and 100% recyclable. Recycling aluminium uses 95% less energy than producing it from its raw materials and will often be recycled to become the same thing as when it was originally manufactured.

As a metal, the properties of aluminium make it extremely popular for a variety of different uses, because it is flexible, strong, and lightweight. Some of the main uses for aluminium include:

  • Building construction, where it can be used to create door and window frames, building structures like swimming pools and bridges, and long-span roof systems. After steel, aluminium is the most commonly used metal in construction.
  • In the transportation industry, it helps to construct aeroplanes, trains, boats and cars, as well as smaller vehicles such as bicycles and motorbikes.
  • Packaging, where it’s used as the main material for cans and foil. An empty drink can which is recycled can pass through the recycling process and be back on sale as a brand new can in 60 days.
  • Electricity, where it’s used as the main material in high-voltage lines due to its low resistance and conductivity.

What is recycled copper used for?

Except for silver, copper is the best electrical conductor in the world making it incredibly valuable and the most frequently sold material in the industry. Recycling copper is incredibly beneficial environmentally and economically. Compared to extracting new copper, recycling old copper uses 10% of the energy and is worth up to 90% of the cost of the original copper. Common uses of copper include:

  • Electrical applications, where it’s frequently used for wires, circuits, switches and electromagnets due to its conductivity and low resistance properties.
  • Piping and plumbing, where copper is used in refrigeration and air conditioning units, and water supply systems as it is a non-permeable metal that protects the water supply from contamination.
  • Roofing and insulation, due to its higher melting point and resistance to the elements.
  • Household items such as cookware, doorknobs and cutlery.

What is recycled zinc used for?

Traditionally known for its anti-rust properties, zinc is also present in everyday life in the form of coins. While recycling zinc is more complicated compared to some other scrap metals, modern recycling technology means zinc can be recycled more effectively. Common uses of zinc include:

  • Galvanisation, where it’s commonly used as a coating to help protect iron and steel from corroding (galvanisation is simply the name for the process).
  • Batteries, where zinc is used as an anode component material.
  • Brass, which is created by alloying zinc and copper.

What is recycled tin used for?

Due to its weather-resistant properties, historically tin has been frequently used to improve the qualities of other metals. As the element, itself is so rare, and tin is one of the most expensive non-ferrous metals, recycling it is very important. The uses of tin are quite varied, and include:

  • Cans, which were historically made from cheap steel and covered in a thin sheet to make them weather resistant.
  • Cars, where tin is used to add resistance to the motor block, piston rings and clutch plates.
  • Springs, which are increased in toughness through the addition of tin.
  • A tin oxide coating is often added to glass surfaces to help make them more resistant.
  • Solders used in 5G electronics, new electric cars and solar cells.

How can you recycle scrap metals?

If you think you might have some scrap metal that might be worth recycling, there are often local depots that will accept and process scrap metals. At ASM Metal Recycling we buy a huge range of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals at any one of our four local depots. Discover more here about the scrap metals we buy in our collection process.

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