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How Does Metal Recycling Work?

One of the most important considerations for small, medium, and large businesses is their recycling. Even recycling something as inexpensive as paper and cardboard can offer significant savings on waste disposal costs for a business, and if a company deals with significant amounts of packaging recycling can even be a significant revenue stream. When it comes to industrial manufacturers recycling is even more important as materials like metal are much more valuable than cardboard or paper packaging. The return on scrap metal is much greater—and reliably so—than nearly any other recyclable material.

It is, however, significantly more complicated than dumping paper products into a dumpster. There is a wide range of different metal types with different values, that are all reduced if they become mixed with metal and with other products. If you’re handling the accounting or management side of a business then metal types and values may be opaque, leaving you wondering how does metal recycling work for your business?

Basic Metal Recycling for Business

At the most basic level metal recycling works by individual initiative. A person takes it upon themselves to gather up used, or scrap metal and bring it into a recycling center so it can be reprocessed. This can include everything from picking up discarded soda cans from the street, to running in discarded brake rotors after an auto repair, up to bringing in whole discarded appliances like washers and dryers to be broken down into their individual metal types and recycled. For small metalworking businesses this type of metal recycling can be as simple as a bucket for welders to dump their spent rods and chippings from the machines into. When it’s filled up the owner can run it to the recycling center.

This is one way to recycle metal, and it does offer a return for the effort. However, it is far from being the best way to recycle metals. It lacks efficiency. It can mix a lot of different metals together. It doesn’t allow for separation of metals contaminated with things like grease and oil from those that aren’t. Overall, it reduces the return on recycled metal from a serious potential revenue stream for a business, to enough to buy pizza and beer for the crew to celebrate job completion.

In order to maximize the returns on metal recycling companies need to make allowances to:

Separate Metal by Type In order to maximize returns on metal recycling metals must be separated by their basic metal type like aluminum, steel, copper, or other metal type. If possible, sorting them by exact alloy type will further maximize profits.
Sort Small Items Smaller items like bits can also be recycled. Recycling tungsten carbide drill bits and other small items like tungsten carbide inserts is an often overlooked option. Sorting these by bit material type and coating before bringing them in for recycling enhances the returns on recycling.
Keep Scrap Clean Metals should not be mixed with other metals. Stainless steels should be stripped of steel fasteners, and aluminum should be free of steel or stainless fasteners as well.
Store Metal Safely Metal can corrode in the presence of moisture and atmosphere, as well as when it comes into contact with a range of other chemicals and materials. To prevent this sorted and separated metals should be stored indoors in a dry environment to prevent damage and maximize reuse.

While these steps are simple, in practice they can be difficult to manage. It can be difficult to find enough space for production. Finding extra space for material storage is a challenge. It is even harder to prioritize storage for materials that are going to be discarded. This sort of additional hassle has led to many companies missing out on the  full benefits of recycling. However, it’s possible to enjoy the full returns on metal recycling without the hassle by contracting with professional recycling services.

How Metal Recycling Can Work for Your Business


A good professional recycling company answers the question “How does metal recycling work?” with “effortlessly and without you having to think about it.” Professional recycling companies can provide you with bins that are custom fitted to your manufacturing environment by providing rolling bins that can move from production station to production, for example, or low profile bins that fit under low conveyors. They can also provide stackable bins to reduce onsite storage footprint, and most importantly of all a scrap metal recycling pick-up service.

Scrap metal pick-ups remove one of the more challenging aspects of recycling metal, and recycling in general. The need to dedicate large square footages to storing materials

that won’t be used for production. Pick-up services can remove this constraint. Regular picks up of scrap metal for recycling can be scheduled making recycling metal a revenue stream that a business owner doesn’t have to put much thought into.

A professional recycling partner can create an individualized recycling system that maximizes efficiency, and the return on scrap metals. This recycling system can also effectively minimize the environmental impact of manufacturing operations. Not only by reducing waste materials, but also by facilitating other reclamation efforts. Leak proof recycling bins can prevent the uncontrolled release of coolants and lubricant into the environment. If a manufacturer is capable of reprocessing those fluids, then they too can be recycled.  Provided they choose a professional and honest recycling partner.

What to Look for in a Metal Recycling Partner

In any industry there are professional companies that focus on doing good work, and providing the best service for their customers.  Industrial Metal Services is a reputable, professional, recycling company that specializes in providing industrial manufacturers with customized recycling solutions that maximize the return on their recycled metals. It is the company that provides the best answer to companies who are wondering how metal recycling works and how they can make it work for their business.

Industrial Metal Service is a professional recycling service located in San Jose serving Bay Area businesses with professional and optimized metal recycling services. Providing customized containers, and roll away containers that can easily be transported around your shop, and regular pick up services. We are the recycling partner that you can count on in the Bay Area and nationwide. Contact us to find out why we’re the recycling partner and metal supplier you can count on.

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Published by IMS Team

Industrial Metal Service has decades of experience and over 1.1 billion pounds of metal sold and recycled. Our founder, Jeff, has spent his life in the industry and prides himself on offering fair, efficient, trustworthy, knowledgeable, outstanding customer service. We offer metal salesmetal recycling pickup service, and other associated services, such as precise metal sawing, machinery teardown, and warehouse cleanupGive us a call and we’ll get it done.