When you think of stainless steel, your mind probably pictures a rust-free, shiny metal. Since stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, you can find the metal built into millions of different appliances. But, what happens to stainless steel when these items are scrapped? Is there such a thing as stainless steel recycling?
The short answer is YES – stainless steel can be recycled. Stainless steel recycling seeks to refine and reuse stainless steel parts so the metal doesn’t go to waste.
So, how can you get involved in stainless steel recycling? In this all-inclusive guide, you will learn the ins and outs of stainless steel and how to recycle it, including:
- What qualifies as stainless steel?
- Is stainless steel always recyclable?
- How stainless steel is recycled
- 3 stainless steel recycling tips
- Where to recycle stainless steel
Let’s get right into it.
What is Stainless Steel?
First created by Harry Brearley in 1913, the relatively new invention of “rustless steel” has become an integral part of our modern world.
Stainless steel is known for its remarkable heat and corrosion-resistant properties. It is primarily made of an iron and chromium alloy. Interestingly enough, there isn’t just one type of stainless steel. In fact, around 200 alloys of steel are recognized as stainless. This is because each grade of stainless steel can contain a mixture of other metal and gas additives such as nickel, carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, manganese, and silicon.
However, in order to be considered truly stainless, the steel must contain at least 10.5% chromium. Through the alloying process, each alloy and additive is strictly measured to make sure the stainless steel meets its desired grade and quality.
Is Stainless Steel Recyclable?
Yes, stainless steel is recyclable. In fact, many big industrial corporations will scrap stainless steel through certified scrap metal facilities. Here’s why.
Why Some Industries Prefer to Recycle Stainless Steel Scrap
Since stainless steel doesn’t corrode and is very strong, many industries gravitate towards it, including the industrial, manufacturing, construction, maritime, automotive, aerospace, culinary, and medical industries.
Here’s the problem: Every instrument and appliance will eventually reach the end of its lifecycle. And with so many appliances built with stainless steel parts, it’s a big waste to just dump these items in a landfill. After all, they can easily be broken down and reused.
That’s why many companies choose to recycle the parts. Not only is it good for the environment, but businesses also profit from recycling stainless steel.
How Stainless Steel is Recycled
Typically, stainless steel recycling falls into 2 main categories: reclaimed scrap and industrial scrap.
On one hand, reclaimed scrap comes from finished products that have already been used. For example, used stainless steel from an old construction pipe would be considered reclaimed scrap.
On the other hand, industrial scrap refers to excess stainless steel trimmings or scraps left over from the manufacturing process. Many times, a construction site or manufacturing company will have heaps of unused stainless steel fragments. These can be sent to recycling facilities as industrial scrap.
Once the stainless steel reaches a scrap metal recycling company, the recyclers have a very specific process to break down and refine the metal. First, the scrap is sorted by category. Then it is shredded, processed, and refined.
This process ensures that the steel is fully broken down and all impurities are removed.
3 Easy Stainless Steel Recycling Tips
Are you ready to start recycling stainless steel scrap?
Whether you are part of an industry that produces a lot of industrial scrap or you would simply like to collect stainless steel scrap on your own, here are 3 easy stainless steel recycling tips to help you get started.
1. Sort Your Scrap
First, it’s always a good idea to separate out all of the stainless steel scrap from the other metals. When you sort your scrap ahead of time, you will reap the most profit from your scrap. Here’s what you should do.
First, make piles out of the different types of metal. You can scrap the other metals too! Ensure all of your stainless steel pieces are as clean as possible and kept in a bucket or bag that is easy for your recycling facility to weigh.
If you operate a business that has a large amount of stainless steel scrap, you can find a scrap metal facility that will come and pick up the metal for you. Be sure to separate the stainless steel from other metals in proper storage containers, such as an industrial dumpster or waste bin.
2. Make a Stainless Steel Recycling Business Plan
As mentioned before, businesses can save a lot of money and help the environment if they choose to recycle their scrap metal. The same is true for stainless steel recycling.
If your company doesn’t already have scrap metal recycling protocols set in place, now is the time to make a plan! Your plan should include:
- A list of recyclable metals that your business routinely procures
- Designated industrial recycling bins to separate and store the discarded metals
- Quarterly check-ins to make sure recycling operations are running smoothly
- A reliable scrap metal recycling facility that will help you transport bulk scrap
When you have a strong recycling plan set in place, you will notice that your company’s recycling program will run a lot more efficiently.
3. Find the Right Scrap Metal Recycling Facility
At the end of the day, your stainless steel recycling process can’t be completed without a good scrap metal recycling facility on your side!
When searching for the right recycling facility, make sure you find one that is certified and has experience recycling stainless steel. Furthermore, look for a scrap metal recycler that is reliable, promotes customer service, and has a long list of 5-star reviews.
Ready to Recycle Your Stainless Steel?
Need help finding the best scrap metal recycling facility for your stainless steel? Look no further than GLE Scrap!
GLE Scrap is a full-service scrap metal recycler that processes stainless steel. We also offer logistics and transportation services across Michigan and Florida. We would be happy to help you recycle your stainless steel! Contact us to request a quote.