Simple Guidelines on Sorting Scrap Metal for Recycling

10 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog


The process of recycling scrap metal is highly beneficial for the environment. This practice contributes to significant resource savings because less energy is required in recycling when compared to processing virgin ores. This also minimises mining wastes, reduces air and water pollution and decreases the rate of raw material depletion. In addition, you can make some money by selling valuable metal pieces to scrap yards.

If you are thinking about presenting your residential or commercial scrap metal to recyclers, you should learn how to sort different types of metal. This will make weighing of each individual metal easier and you may get a larger payout for your trouble. Here are some simple guidelines to help you sort out the pieces:

Magnet Testing

The metal recycling industry deals with a wide variety of metals therefore the sorting task can be overwhelming. You can simplify the work by separating the scrap into their two main categories: ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Ferrous scrap refers to all metals with iron and the latter do not contain any iron. Generally, non-ferrous metals are more valuable so you can get more for them after sorting.

Acquire a good magnet, test the scrap pieces in sequence and separate those that stick and those which do not. The ferrous metals are those attracted to magnets and they are typically found in large quantities in homes and commercial spaces.

Sorting Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-ferrous metals are not physically similar so you can identify and sort relatively efficiently by sight. Common metals in this category include copper, aluminium and brass. Copper scrap is usually in form of wires, electronic components and even cookware. You will recognize the material by the red or brown colour as well as green if the material is oxidised.

Brass is an alloy of copper and you will find it in form of items such as pipe valves, door knobs and cabinet handles. If you find a yellowish metal in your pile, it is brass unless you have some scrap gold. Aluminium is a lightweight metal which is not susceptible to rust. It will appear silver in colour and is commonly found as foil and soda cans. You should also note that stainless steel is silver-coloured and non-magnetic but it is notably heavier than aluminium.

Sorting Ferrous Metals

Iron and steel scrap is often rust-coloured so the material can be put together for recycling. Lead is dark-grey and heavy therefore put lead batteries and similar materials separately. Finally, tin is relatively light and makes a crackling sound when bent.

Try contacting a company such as Sydney Copper Recycling to learn more if you have other questions.