Recycling is a growing industry, and many clever entrepreneurs are continuing to make money by collecting scrap and taking it down to the recycling facility. Have you ever wondered what all that metal is for, though? Read on to learn a little more about the different kinds of metal you can earn money for recycling, and how they're used in the real world.
Second only to iron in terms of sheer global consumption, aluminium is one of those substances that turns up everywhere. You probably come into contact with aluminium every day of your life, and a surprisingly high proportion of that will be recycled from scrap! Most of the aluminum you encounter personally will be used inside food tins and beverage cans, but as it's so light and versatile it's also commonly found used in vehicles, appliances, electronics, furniture and for various military purposes.
Brass isn't actually a metal in its own right; it's an alloy made from copper and zinc, with traces of other metals commonly found. It's no more difficult to recycle, however, and is often re-purposed into fixings and findings used for construction purposes: screws, rivets, valves, handles, taps and wheels are all common uses for recycled brass scrap.
Copper is a remarkably useful metal. It's light, it's strong, it's easy to work, it ages well, it's chemically stable, it has good properties of electrical and thermal conductivity and it's easy to make into a wide variety of even more useful alloys. Much of the copper scrap you take to the plant will eventually form part of one of these alloys; most of the rest will likely be used in wiring, particularly as demand for high-capacity wires increases all the time.
Scrap iron will be used to form a part of the alloys you encounter in almost every part of your daily life. It's the major component of steel, which is used in every appliance in your home and many of your clothes--amongst other things! Iron is enormously useful for construction projects, vehicle construction, military applications...the list goes on and on. Scrap iron is abundant as a result, and recycling plants will always be able to accept it.
Most scrap lead comes from batteries, and that is also where most of it is destined to return once it's been recycled. Lead can of course be toxic, so it's not used as widely as once it was—and you should be extremely careful when handling the scrap to take along to the recycling plant.
Zinc is used in far smaller quantities than many of the metals you might collect as scrap for cash, but it's so vital that there's almost always a market for it nevertheless. It's used to strengthen and galvanise steel and to make die casings for various construction and electronic purposes.