Waste recycling is a part of life for most Australians. Over half of Australian household waste goes into a recycling container rather than into landfill. But there's more to recycling than just sorting tins and bottles into different containers. Scrap metal recycling also plays a role in reducing the damage mining and manufacturing do to the environment. Despite its positive effects, however, not enough businesses take advantage of it.  

Scrap metal waste: the challenges

When we think of litter, we tend to think of drink tins, crisp packets and newspapers strewn by the side of the road. But larger objects often get discarded as well. In 2009, Clean Up Australia reported that scrap metal waste made up 17.5% of the litter collected during that year's Clean Up Australia Day. This scrap metal waste consisted of items such as wrecked or discarded vehicles, construction waste and more. This type of waste poses a threat to the environment: toxic chemicals from items such as car batteries can leach into the local ecosystem, harming wildlife and humans. 

Benefits of scrap metal recycling

The amount of scrap metal either dumped illegally or sent to landfill is doubly harmful because of the many benefits of recycling this type of material. Production of metals like steel and aluminium can be very harmful to the environment, from the damage caused by mining to the greenhouse gasses emitted by factories that turn metals into finished products. Over its lifetime, a steel product made from raw materials uses four times as much energy as a product made from recycled steel. Manufacturers have known this for years. In fact, industrial steel scrap has been recycled since at least 1915. Recycling scrap metal thus has several positive effects: it cuts down on the energy consumed by metal product manufacturing, it limits the damage done to the environment by mining, and it reduces the space taken up in landfills by discarded metal items. 

Getting started recycling scrap metal 

Despite these many benefits, some businesses still don't recycle their scrap metal. This may be because they aren't aware of the benefits of scrap metal recycling or it may be because they don't know where to begin. Business metal recycling isn't exactly like household recycling, which can be offputting. But the basics are very simple. Just locate a metal recycler in your area and ask them for a description of their services. Metal recyclers may offer drop-off sites for home or business customers; for larger amounts of scrap, they can usually arrange pickup and disposal. With just a simple phone call, you can save money, simplify your waste management and do your part to minimise the impact of metal production on the planet.