facts & figures

Metal Recycling by Numbers

Here at Maxilead, we love some good old facts & figures, especially concerning what we’re most passionate about: metal recycling. The metal recycling industry is booming and the number of metals that are recycled year on year is dumbfounding.

There’s oh-so-many reasons to recycle scrap metal. If not for the environmental benefits, then how about the economic ones? Whatever urges you to recycle your scrap – it’s well worth knowing the numbers behind this gigantic trade.

Metal recycling facts & figures

The scrap metal industry has long been a vital sector for the UK economy and it remains so today. In fact, in 2013 it was reported that the scrap metal trade makes around £10bn a year. So, 5 years on it is safe to assume that this figure has grown even more so.

The scrap metal recycling industry covers a vast range of various ferrous and non-ferrous metals. We’ve decided to break down our top facts and figures into a few of our favourite ones.

Steel facts & figures

Steel is the most recycled metal, not only nationally but globally. Steel is an alloy of iron, carbon and other elements. Because of its high tensile strength and low cost (as well as its convenience when recycling) it is a major component used in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, vehicles and machines.

  • Around 12.5 billion steel cans are used in the UK every year
  • Every single UK household recycles approximately 600 steel cans a year
  • It was reported that in 2005, around 50% of all steel packaging was recycled – the figure is expected to be higher now in 2018
  • Over 2.5 billion cans are recycled every year in the UK. That’s the equivalent of the weight of 18,000 double decker buses
  • Steel is the most recycled metal not only in the UK but across the whole world!
  • The thinnest part of a steel can can measure as little as 0.07mm – that’s thinner than human hair
  • It would take 1,087 stacked up steel drinks cans to reach the top of the London Eye, or 2,818 to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  • All steel cans in circulation in the UK at present contain at least 25% recycled steel
  • The steel can was created in 1810 by Nicolas Appert, who invented it as a way of preserving food for Napoleon’s army

Aluminium facts & figures

Aluminium is one of the most cost-effective recyclable metals. Using recycled aluminium compared to manufacturing from scratch delivers huge energy savings. Aluminium is a non-ferrous metal and can be recycled limitlessly without losing any of its properties – making it one of the most sought after scrap metals.

  • It is estimated that around 75% of all aluminium ever made is still in circulation to this day
  • The recycling of aluminium uses 95% less energy than producing raw materials does
  • Recycling just one tonne of aluminium saves nine tonnes of CO2 emissions
  • Aluminium is one of the words most abundant elements, it can be found in rocks, soil, vegetation, water and even the air
  • The UK produces over 9 billion drinks cans every year and 80% of them are made from aluminium
  • Aluminium does not rust or corrode, making it easy to recycle
  • One single aluminium can can be recycled up to eight times a year, saving enough energy for around 160 new cans to be produced
  • Recycling one single aluminium can can save enough energy to power a 100-watt bulb for up to four hours
  • In the UK, drinks can be recycled, made in to new cans, filled and put back on the shelves in just six weeks.

Copper facts & figures

Much like other metals, copper can be recycled indefinitely and not lose any of its important properties. Global demand for recycled copper has boomed by 250% since 1960. Due to this increasing popularity, you can now find recycled copper in a wide variety of places. Copper can be found in roofing, cladding, transport, coins, cookware and even musical instruments. It is most commonly utilised, however, in electrical appliances.

  • 65% of recycled copper is used in electrical appliances due to it being an excellent electrical conductor
  • It is estimated that around 80% of all copper ever mined from the earth is still in use today
  • Using scrap copper as opposed to fresh copper cuts global CO2 emissions by around 65%
  • Roughly 42% of the copper in circulation around Europe is recycled
  • Recycling copper saves a huge amount of energy, as much as 85% compared to manufacturing from scratch

To find out more about scrap metal recycling, head over to our blog. Or, get in touch with us today for a quote.