Over the past five years, the scrap metal recycling industry in Australia has had its ups and downs and recently the amount of scrap metal has reduced in its volume.
The reason for the drop is that manufacturing in Australia has been falling and this has led to a decrease in the amount of scrap the industry is producing.
However, there are certainly still materials being recycled in the trade and industrial sectors in South Australia, and it’s important these industries understand what metals can be recycled.
Toxic and dangerous items
Hazardous waste can come in many forms and sometimes something may not seem too dangerous, but in fact, if not disposed of properly, it can do great harm to the environment.
When depositing waste at a metal recycler, you should avoid leaving liquid waste behind. This includes liquid from septic tanks, oily water and sludge.
You should also be aware of packaged waste that can be hazardous. This includes lab chemicals, medical waste, road sealing surface treatments, solvents (such as paint, inks and dies), pesticides and photographic waste. These waste materials shouldn’t be deposited when leaving your scrap metal for recycling at scrap metal recyclers.
These aren’t the only types of hazardous waste either – you should be wary of gas bottles and other LPG contaminants, formaldehyde, corrosive materials such as acid, waste produced from quarantine, and soils that are contaminated. These shouldn’t be deposited at a metal recycler.
Worker safety at metal recycling plants
Recycling is good for the earth but if the proper materials aren’t disposed of at the right places, it can harm or injure workers. If chemicals or other hazardous materials are deposited with scrap metal, it can directly harm employees working at metal recycling plants.
The dangers of combustible dust
Metal that is combustible has the potential to cause a fire, especially if there is dust that becomes suspended in the air as this can create an explosion. If the dust has the right concentration in the air and is mixed with the right environmental conditions, it can cause a disaster.
Some materials that seem not to cause a threat, like iron, can also explode and burn if the right conditions and dust are produced. In the past, employees working at metal recycling plants have both died and been injured from explosions that have happened because of dust particles in the atmosphere.
The main metals which can produce dust that can combust include zinc, iron, chrome, aluminium and magnesium. When these metals are thrown in with other hazardous materials, such as chemicals, there’s an even greater chance of explosion. This is why it’s important to ensure you are recycling the correct metal scrap waste when you work with a recycling company.
It’s vital that employees working at scrap metal plants follow the best health and safety practices to avoid these kinds of disasters.
How to prepare your scrap metal for recycling
To ensure your metal is properly prepared for recycling, without accidentally including any hazardous materials, make sure all the materials you’re depositing are metallic in nature.
Lead acid batteries are ok to be recycled, but not nickel cadmium or house hold cell batteries. Sort and identify materials so that they can be properly classified. Magnets are great to use to find steel that should be separated from non-ferrous items.
Sort your scrap metal into two classifications – ferrous and non-ferrous metals - ahead of dropping your scrap metal off at the plant.
Make sure all your metal is properly cleaned before dropping it off, because if it’s not completely free of hazardous materials, your metals might be rejected.
If you want some more information, don’t hesitate to contact us at Ferris Metal Recyclers.