Types of Scrap Metal

Types of Scrap Metal

Scrap Metal is divided into two types: ferrous and nonferrous.

Ferrous scrap is scrap iron and steel. This includes scrap from old automobiles, farm equipment, household appliances, steel beams, railroad tracks, ships, and food packaging and other containers. Ferrous scrap accounts for the largest volume of metal scrapped. Ferrous scrap is classified into almost 80 grades; additionally, there are another 40 grades of railroad ferrous scrap and even more grades of alloy scrap. Metal alloys are made from a combination of two or more metals.

Nonferrous scrap metal is scrap metal other than iron and steel. While the volume of nonferrous scrap is less than ferrous scrap, it is more valuable by the pound. Here are some examples of nonferrous scrap: aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, titanium, cobalt, chromium, and precious metals. Millions of tons of nonferrous scrap metal are recovered by processors and consumed by secondary smelter, refiners, ingot makers, fabricators, foundries, and other industries in this country.

Scrap metal, ferrous and nonferrous, can be categorized as either “home scrap” or “purchased scrap.”

Home scrap is scrap generated at the mill, refinery, or foundry, and is generally re-melted and used again at the same plant. Home scrap never leaves the plant.

The other category, purchased scrap, is further classified as either industrial (also called prompt or new scrap) or obsolete scrap.

An example of industrial scrap is a piece of metal that is cut or drilled. The metal that is cut or drilled out and is not incorporated into or made into the finished product is known as industrial scrap. The largest source of industrial scrap is the automotive industry.

Obsolete scrap, also referred to as old scrap, is scrap that is worn out or unwanted in its form. Examples of obsolete ferrous scrap are automobile hulks, old farm equipment, and major home appliances. Examples of obsolete nonferrous scrap include radiators and catalytic converters from old automobiles, electrical boards from old computers, old pipes from buildings, and spent photographic film.

Recyclers can recover copper and lead from radiators, platinum from automobile catalytic converters, gold from computer electrical boards, and silver from the spent photographic film.


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