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  • Matt Coyle

Scrap Metal Recycling | How It Works

Whether your Charlotte business consistently recycles scrap metal, or you are just thinking about beginning the practice, you may be curious about the process. How does metal go from scrap to new products? Your local Charlotte recycling center takes many steps to ensure that scrap metal can be efficiently repurposed and reused. Let’s take a look at the basics of scrap metal recycling.

Collection of Materials

The scrap metal recycling process doesn’t actually start in the scrap yard or recycling center. Instead, it starts with you! Our industry largely depends on companies like yours who want to contribute to the environment by helping divert large quantities of scrap metal from landfills. Getting metal from your Charlotte business is where our process begins.

An easy way for your industry to contribute to scrap metal recycling is to create a process for organizing and storing scrap. Once you have a large enough amount, a minimum of 500 pounds, you can transport it to our local recycling center to start the process!

Sorting the Metal

The next step of the recycling process involves sorting the metal. You may have already done this before dropping it off, organizing your scrap by type of metal when you store or load it. However, we will still double check to ensure that everything is sorted correctly and can be effectively recycled.

Recycling centers use magnetic sensors to sort ferrous metal from non-ferrous metal. Ferrous metal is metal that contains iron, which makes it magnetic. This part of the process can vary a bit from one recycling center to another. However, it is fairly typical to sort scrap metals by type and cleanliness as well. Once the metals have been sorted, it is time to send them to the next stage in the process.

Processing the Metal

Processing the Scrap Metal

Recycling centers in Charlotte get metal in many different shapes and forms. It is important to ensure that the metal is in a form that makes it easier to go through the recycling process. This is where processing comes in.

This process typically begins with a machine called a baler. This machine uses hydraulic pressure to compress and cut metal into smaller pieces that are more easily handled. These machines are able to use extensive pressure to cut through even the largest pieces of metal.

Scrap metal is then shredded using machines known as hammer mills. These machines break the metal further down into smaller pieces by impacting the metal with spinning “hammers.” The result is metal that has a high surface area, which is desirable for melting.

While this is how most scrap metal is processed, there are different processes for aluminum and steel, which are instead processed into sheets and blocks, respectively.


Once the metal you’ve dropped off at your favorite Charlotte recycling center has been processed, it is time to melt it down. This process engages large furnaces that are capable of generating extensive heat. Each type of metal has its own furnace in order to ensure consistency.

This process is fairly straightforward. The metal is gradually melted down into a liquid. For some metals, this may take a few minutes. For others, the process could be up to a couple of hours in length.


After the melting process is complete, some more things must be done before the recycling process is finished. One of the most important aspects is purification. Scrap metal can contain impurities and other types of contaminants. Removing these from the melted metal is what is meant by purification.

This happens using a process known as electrolysis. This process has many uses including purification of metals. An electric current enters the melted metal at one end, then travels to the other end. During this process, it initiates chemical reactions that purify the metal.

Solidification of New Metal

The final step in the recycling process is solidification. This process begins by allowing the liquid metal to cool using specialized cooling chambers. Here, they will gradually return to their solid state. During this process, metals can also have different chemicals applied to them in order to create certain properties.

During the solidification process, the metal is converted into a form that makes it easier for manufacturers to use. This typically includes cutting it into compact blocks or molding it into sheets or bars. Once this is complete, the metal is shipped off for use in manufacturing processes.

Recycle Your Metal with Us!

If your company is looking to improve their sustainability, recycling your scrap metal with us is a great idea! In addition to helping the environment, you can add extra money to your bottom line!

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