The infinite life of metal
With today's emphasis on recycling, the scrap metal industry can be justifiably proud of its long history of transforming waste into new products. Now recognised as the world's first 'green' industry, scrap metal recycling has for centuries been reducing pressure on the environment, contributing to the economy and playing a prominent role in job creation.
Unlike other materials such as plastic and paper, which can be recycled only a limited number of times, metal is virtually indestructible.
World wide, the scrap metal recycling industry annually transforms more than 135 million metric tons of obsolete materials from consumers, businesses and manufacturers into useful raw materials. This is metal that would otherwise have to come from raw materials – necessitating an increase in mining and associated costs.
For example, recycling one ton of aluminium conserves up to five metric tons of bauxite ore and 14 megawatt hours of electricity.
In a country like South Africa, where unemployment is high, metal recycling provides an opportunity for informal traders and hawkers to earn a living by collecting and selling waste metal to recycling companies.
Benefits of metal recycling
Protects the Environment
Recycling and re-using previously manufactured metal products reduces pressure on the country's mineral resources, including coal, water and electricity used during the mining process.
Creating new products from recycled metal costs less. These savings can be passed on to consumers, creating a win-win situation.
The South African recycling industry employs thousands of people – from unskilled labourers to highly skilled and trained metallurgists. It also stimulates employment in the informal sector.
Builds the economy
Through the export of surplus scrap metal, the recycling industry contributes towards the nation's balance of trade.