Steel Recycling Facts
- Unlike many other materials, steel and iron can be recycled an infinite number of times with no loss of product quality.
- More steel is recycled, by weight, each year in Canada than aluminum, paper and glass combined.
- The overall recycling rate of steel in Canada is more than 66%.
- Every ton of steel recycled saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.
- The steel recycled in Canada each year saves enough energy to power 2.7 million households.
- The steel from six junked cars is all that is needed to frame a 2000-square-foot home. The alternative is to cut down 40 to 50 trees.
- Steel is the only industry that recycles itself—even its own production equipment will eventually be recycled.
Environmental Benefits of Steel Recycling
Vehicles, appliances, agricultural implements, industrial equipment, ships, railroad cars, buildings and bridges are just a few of many products which contain steel. The extraction of virgin ores used to produce steel can have devastating ecological consequences. The use of scrap steel, as opposed to virgin ore, has the following estimated environmental impacts:
- air pollution is reduced by 86%
- water pollution is reduced by 76%
- energy savings of 74%
- water consumption is reduced by 40%
- mining wastes are reduced by 97%
- consumer waste is reduced by 105%
Metals are one of the easiest materials to recycle in Saskatchewan. We have an end user in Evraz which can handle all of the steel scrap that we can produce.
Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment guidelines for municipal landfill operations specify that communities must set aside a separate area for scrap metal. Cross-contamination is an issue: metals get in the main garbage pit and garbage in the metals pile. There is room for improvement in educating the public about metal recycling. Some smaller communities have reported difficulty with finding someone to pick up their metal piles. See our database for a scrap metal dealer near you.
Sorting Scrap Metal
The following are some of the things that need to be removed from steel scrap before it can be recycled. We encourage you to not dispose of ferrous scrap containing these materials. Some of these products contain other metals which have value to non-ferrous metal dealers.
- stainless steel
- aluminium (e.g., storm doors, ladders, BBQs)
- electric motors
- mercury switches
- electrical wiring
- fluorescent lighting ballasts
- propane tanks (empty O.K.)
- radioactive material (smoke detectors, aircraft dials)
- any hazardous materials
- Metal-based paints
- fence wire (barbed wire, page wire, etc)
The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) has announced that the more than 85 million tons of domestic steel scrap recycled in 2011, both in the U.S. and abroad, translated into a 92 percent recycling rate, an all-time record.
More than 1.5 million net tons of steel containers were recycled in 2011, for a recycling rate of 70.8 percent. Automotive recycling rates were at 94.5 percent, down after several years in excess of 100 percent, meaning more old cars had been coming off the road than new ones going back onto it.. Other notable recycling rates were appliances (90 percent, or 2.9 million net tons), construction plates and beams (98 percent) and construction rebar (70 percent).
(Source: The Steel Recycling Institute, Nov. 2012)