Although significant steps have been made regarding scrap metal recycling, the industry has been grappling with a few issues over the past few years. The challenges have affected the industry's performance since the growth rate dropped at the rate of -5.4% between 2014 and 2019. This article highlights strategies that recycling companies can take to improve scrap metal recycling.
One of the many issues that scrap metal recycling companies deal with is inefficiency in the collection. Notably, most collectors focus on easy-to-find metals such as iron, copper and steel. Unfortunately, the rest -- especially metals that are used in highly mixed products -- end up in dumpsites. It can be attributed to the fact that end-users and collectors do not have the time to sort small quantities of metals that are used in mixed products. Therefore, the best approach to improve scrap metal recycling is to incentivise collection. For instance, collectors should be paid more if they go the extra step of removing as much of the foreign material from the scrap metals as possible. Providing incentives will increase the amount of scrap metal that ends up in recycling plants rather than the dumpsites.
Involve Product Designers
Product design and recycling are two fields that seem worlds apart. One is involved with a product's early stages while the other deals with the end of life. The only thing that ties both fields together is the product. Therefore, an information feedback loop is essential between the two camps to improve product recyclability. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for a long time since some product designers do not think about recycling during the design phase. Constant communication and a feedback loop help designers to choose materials that will not interfere with the product's recyclability. Moreover, product designers can redesign a product to accommodate more scrap metal, thereby encouraging scrap metal recycling.
Invest in New Sorting Technology
Products were made by blending a handful of metals in the past. However, this has changed today; for example, the microelectronics field utilises every type of metal in existence today. Such products are difficult to sort, especially given that most recycling companies still use basic sorting equipment. The only way to ensure high efficiency during sorting is to invest in new technology. For instance, new generation hand-held metal analysers are equipped with Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) technology. The expertise allows recycling firms to conduct accurate elemental analysis on scrap metals, thus reducing the amount of metal that goes to landfills.