June 26th, 2023

Steel is one of the many metals that can be recycled numerous times without the process affecting its chemical properties. Close to 70 percent of the steel used in the US is recycled each year, and that number will continue to grow as production facilities continue to refine their processes.

Steel is used in a variety of industries and can have many different applications. Regardless of the application, end users and producers alike are always looking for ways to cut costs. One way of cutting costs in the steel industry is through the utilization of the steel recycling process.

The remnants of steel that are recycled are referred to as scrap and they can be broken into three main categories.

  • Home scrap refers to either rejected pieces or trimmings produced by steel mills during the production process. Home scrap is reused by the mills to produce additional material.
  • Prompt steel classifies any steel that has been used for further processing and manufacturing purposes. Organizations who produce prompt scrap often sell the excess material to scrap buyers for a premium price, which in turn can reduce their operating costs.
  • Obsolete scrap covers all other types of steel waste like automobiles and appliances. Regardless of the type of scrap, all recycled steel will eventually find its way back to a steel mill to be repurposed.

Once the recycled steel has returned to the mill, it is melted down using temperatures around 3,000 degrees. During the reheating process, the recycled steel is purified, and the production facility can rid it of any contaminants. This process is how steel mills ensure the chemical integrity of the recycled steel. Once the steel is melted down and purified, it is then formed back into workable material and sold across various industries.

The steel recycling industry has many benefits including reducing the amount of energy required in the production process, reducing costs for production facilities and end users, and reducing the number of natural resources originally required to produce steel such as coke and ore. Steel recycling processes continue to improve, which will continue to make steel one of the most sustainable raw materials on the market!

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