What is the process of metal recycling in the UK?


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What is the process of metal recycling in the UK?


What’s considered waste today can quickly become resources for tomorrow. Safe recycling of metal plays a very important role in reducing environmental impact and improving the green credentials of homes and businesses. Disposing of scrap metal in landfill is harmful to the planet as it can contaminate the land, making recycling the most desirable option. 

Scrap metal can be acquired from a wide range of day-to-day items, including fridges, cars, kettles and phones, making it one of the most readily available materials in the UK. Once these items have reached the end of their useful life, they can be taken to local recycling centres and licensed scrap metal companies to be properly processed and reused.

To put this into context, modern single fridges are typically made up of plastic, iron and steel, meaning 95% of the item can be recycled. With approximately two million fridges being thrown out each year, this can have a hugely positive impact on the environment when recycled correctly. 

This article will delve deeper into the process of scrap metal recycling, and will touch on the UK laws involved with scrap metal trading.

What is the scrap metal recycling process?

In previous years, the only option for scrap metal items was to send it all to landfill – by doing so, much of the waste was leaking hazardous chemicals into the ground as it rusted and rotted away, which has had a devastating impact on the environment. 

Since then, more eco-friendly alternatives have been introduced to promote cleaner, greener living:

  1. Recycling centres buy scrap metal items from homeowners and businesses, checking for any contamination.
  2. The purchased items are then redirected to reprocessing plants.
  3. Here, some of the parts – such as cabling, shelving, doors and compressors – are safely removed and the items are shredded into small pieces using a specialist machine.
  4. Strong magnets are then applied to separate ferrous metals (such as iron, steel and tin) from non-ferrous metals (such as aluminium, copper and lead). Generally speaking, the former will stick to the magnets while the latter won’t. 
  5. Once carefully sorted and processed using techniques most appropriate for the items, the metal is then bailed and safely transported to the relevant place, be it local or overseas. 
  6. By doing this, the raw materials can be used for something else, from roads and bridges to jewellery and even lamps!

This demonstrates how important it is to dispose of your waste responsibly, using a fully licensed facility where operators will make sure all of the scrap metal they receive is handled properly and sent to the most suitable place to be reused. 

scrap yard with grabber blue sky

What are UK scrap metal trading laws?

No matter their size, all scrap metal companies must follow the same regulations to ensure the trading process is fair and correct for all parties.

  • A licence must be issued by the local authority for metal trading to take place – those without this run the risk of being fined thousands of pounds. This applies to all scrap metal dealers.
  • Payments must be made via electronic bank transfer or cheque – cash should not be exchanged.
  • A clear record of the seller’s name and address must be kept, as well as a receipt of the transaction.

Bring it, don’t bin it!

Selling your scrap metal to a reputable company rather than tossing it into general waste will ensure it is handled safely in line with the relevant laws and regulations. Not only can this have a positive impact on the planet, but your wallet will see the benefits, too! 

Here at Synergy Metal Trading, we are the go-to scrap metal trader for customers throughout Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham, and beyond. We offer the best prices in the local areas and provide instant payouts – simply contact us today to find out more.

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  • Top prices paid for all types of metals
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