How is Steel Recycled?

Published June 28, 2013 by Whirlwind Team

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Steel is the most recycled material in all of North America, with millions of tons of it recycled every year -- more than all other common recyclables together. And the best part is that steel can be recycled over and over without losing any of its strength or quality.

Steel cans, such as those used to store food, use around 25% of that recycled steel. The rest is used around the globe in projects ranging from construction to cars, wind turbines to bridges. In fact, scrap steel is an integral raw component of creating new steel.

Recycling not only keeps steel out of the landfill, it saves in other ways as well:

Each and every ton of recycled steel saves more than 0.7 tons of coal, 1.25 tons of iron ore, and 120 pounds of limestone, while reducing water usage to 40% of that used to make new steel.

All of this adds up to reductions in greenhouse gasses (33%) and CO2 (35%), plus increases in energy efficiency by 30%.

Pretty good argument for recycling as much steel as possible, isn’t it?

Steel is recycled by taking scrap metal and separating the steel from the rest of the material. This is done using magnets which will leave out non-magnetic plastics and other materials. The remaining steel is compacted into a cube rather like a car in a junk yard. Then it is melted and cast into steel ingots. The ingots can be rolled into plates which are then finished as needed for auto body parts, construction materials, and all the other things essential to modern construction, food conservation, technology, and so much more.

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