Metal scrap is one of the largest type of waste generated in Singapore. In 2013, about 1.41 million tonnes of ferrous metal scrap and 135,100 tonnes of non-ferrous metal scrap was generated. The recycling rate is 97% for ferrous metal and 84% for non-ferrous metal in 2013.
Ferrous metal scrap is usually sent to a local steel mill for recycling or exported. Non-ferrous metal scrap is usually sorted and exported overseas for recycling.
Let’s take a closer look at metal recycling:
1. Types of Metal for Recycling
Metals are divided into two types: ferrous metal (iron and steel) that are magnetic, and non-ferrous metal (stainless steel, aluminium, copper, brass, bronze, nickel, and other metals) that are non-magnetic.
The common types of metal scrap in Singapore are:
- Steel (drink cans, aerosol cans, food containers, bars, beams, wires, pipes, chains, electrical goods, cars, etc)
- Stainless steel (clippings, sheets, turnings, etc)
- Aluminium (drink cans, clippings and turnings, windows and door frames, aluminium casting and sheet, etc)
- Copper (copper wires, strips, etc)
2. Why Recycle Metal
It is easy and cost-effective to recycle metal, and metal can be recycled continuously without losing its properties. In addition, recycling metal reduces the environmental impacts associated with metal mining and production. According to Waste Online:
Recycling aluminium requires only 5% of the energy and produces only 5% of the CO2 emissions as compared with primary production and reduces the waste going to landfill. Aluminium can be recycled indefinitely, as reprocessing does not damage its structure. Aluminium is also the most cost-effective material to recycle.
Recycling one tonne of steel cans saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore, 0.5 tonnes of coal & 40% water usage.
Recycling 1 tonne of steel scrap saves 80% of the CO2 emissions produced when making steel from iron ore.
3. The Metal Recycling Process
At the metal recycling plant, sorted metal scrap goes into a furnace at high temperature. The molten metal is poured into casts to produce ingots or rolled into sheets of metal.
Watch this animation video on the metal recycling process from RecycleBank:
4. Recycled Metal Products
Metal scrap can be 100% recycled into metal bars, sheets and ingots for making new metal products such as drink cans, metal construction materials, and car parts.
5. Metal Recycling in Singapore
In Singapore, about 1.41 million tonnes of ferrous metal scrap was generated and the recycling rate is 97% in 2013. For non-ferrous metal scrap, 135,100 tonnes was generated and the recycling rate is 84% in 2013. All types and sizes of metal scrap are collected by waste metal collectors and traders. Drink cans and metal containers are usually collected through the recycling programmes.
The metal scrap are sorted by type manually or by using magnets. The sorted metals are then cut, sheared, shredded, baled or briquetted for storage and transportation. Steel scrap is usually sent to a local steel mill for recycling or exported. Non-ferrous metal is usually exported overseas for recycling.
6. Collectors, Traders and Recycling Companies for Metal
To find a recycling collector or someone who wants your metal waste, check out NEA’s list of collectors and traders.
7. What Can I Do
You can recycle metal scrap and metal cans through the various recycling programmes at home, in school and your office, or through the public recycling bins. But before you do so, remember to Reduce and Reuse your metal waste.