Scrap Metal Recycling and Sustainability

2023 has been a tough year for energy prices, interest rates, mortgage repayments, and food prices, but did you know we also had a steel shortage?

Steel manufacturing plants were closed through parts of 2020 due to Covid. Yet this metal is one of the most popular across numerous industries. And with a shortage and increase in costs, it’s what hit the Australian construction industry particularly hard.

“Steel’s useful properties and relatively low cost make it the main structural metal in engineering and building projects, accounting for about 90% of all metal used each year.” (source)

Speak to anyone in the building trade or anyone planning a project, and they will complain about how much prices have increased and how hard it has been to source materials.

The effects of the steel shortage have been felt across numerous industries, and there’s a helpful list here, about what has caused the steel shortage and sky-rocketing pricing. Here’s a summary:

  • Covid Shutdowns (in plants and mines)
  • Inflation
  • Short term reduced demand
  • Reduction in steelworkers
  • Unavailability of raw materials
  • Increased demand from a growing construction industry

The pressure this puts on industries that require this versatile, popular product highlights the value of recycling scrap metal and improving its sustainability by keeping it in the industry rather than throwing it away. Why source new raw materials when recycled steel is available?

“The production of steel is an energy intensive process, consuming finite natural resources and resulting in greenhouse gas emissions. Recovery and recycling of steel requires significantly less energy than its production from raw materials and saves valuable resources.”

And, if you’d like to learn more about steel, we have a breakdown here, including its raw materials and how it, specifically, is recycled.

Steel is one of the most popular metals used today, and it’s one that Australia extracts and exports, so there are enormous financial impacts on the country’s mining industry. This is why we have chosen to focus on this particular metal and the benefits of recycling it. We have some further information on metal recycling here, including which metals are recyclable (as well as steel), how they’re recycled and the environmental benefits of recycling your metal.

“The most easily recycled metals are steel, iron, aluminium, copper, brass and zinc. But other metals can be recycled and repurposed.”

And other metals are not immune from scarcity shortages and price hikes. Here are some examples:

Copper shortage

Aluminium shortage

If we can recycle our scrap metal, we should.

Need more reasons to recycle scrap metal? Here you go:

  • Scrap metal doesn’t biodegrade. It will remain a hazard in landfills for thousands of years
  • All of the raw materials are finite. Recycling metal leaves the raw materials in the ground for longer
  • The removal of hazardous materials lying around
  • The construction sector already accounts for 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions (source). Recycling can help offset some of this damage

Price hikes and scarcity create a hard reminder of the benefits of recycling scrap metal. Scrap metal recycling is one of the services that a lot of Australians don’t understand the benefits of until it impacts us, and with many of us complaining about the costs of renovations and home builds, it’s now that we feel the pinch.

But it’s not just in our wallets and homes that we feel the benefit. Recycling scrap metal improves its sustainability, as it conserves natural resources, reduces energy consumption, and minimises environmental impacts from mining and processing. Many industries are already under the pump from shortages of essential materials, like steel. Recycling metal creates a circular economy for popular materials that would be useless and dangerous if sent to a landfill.

At Norstar, we’re are metal recycling experts. In business for over 75 years, we are proud to be a Green Star-accredited recycling facility. This accreditation aims to minimise construction and demolition waste disposed in landfills and encourage recycling via a facility like us.

Find your local Norstar branch here. We accept most scrap metal, and if you’re not sure whether your metal is recyclable, why not get in touch and we can help.

We can even pick up your scrap from wherever you are.

Written by Norstar