Steel scrap – far and away the majority of the material we receive and process – is most frequently sold to steel producers, such as Gerdau, Nucor and Steel Dynamics, who melt the steel (at 3,000 degrees F) to create beams, channel, angle, wire rod, rebar and special bars that are used to manufacture everything from auto parts to tools. Steel scrap comes from cars, trucks and vans, as well as construction material (beams and other structural sections), used pipe and tubing and even appliances.
What we refer to as “nonferrous” scrap (pretty much anything that isn’t steel) consists primarily of brass, aluminum, lead, copper and stainless steel (comprised of iron, nickel and chrome).
Brass scrap is typically in the form of radiators, fixtures and pipe fittings. Copper scrap is most frequently wire and pipe (and requires specific documentation of the source). Cans are most commonly associated with aluminum scrap, however wheels, wire, cooling unit components and pipe are also significant contributors to this category. Lead scrap comes in the form of batteries, as well as a wide range of construction materials and tools.
Nonferrous scrap is commonly sold to smelters, refiners, ingot makers, foundries and other industrial consumers. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), these companies rely on nonferrous scrap as a competitive, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient input to make brand new products, continuing the nonferrous metal life cycle.
While nonferrous scrap is a relatively small percentage of the total metal scrap tonnage, it remains an important aspect of metal recycling. For example, ISRI estimates that aluminum recovered scrap represented more than 50 percent of total U.S. apparent aluminum consumption. Stainless steel scrap is blended into alloys that are used in everyday applications, such as silverware, and aerospace components in jet engines.
Recycling is critical for the environment – reuse is always better than landfill – and is equally vital to our economy. The people and companies that partner with Tri-State Iron & Metal Co. to recycle metal scrap are doing right for themselves, the planet, and the many people across the region who are employed by manufacturers.