Innovation in the scrap metal recycling industry

The metal recycling industry was built on innovation. Scrap metal recycling took off during the Second World War, when the demand for metal products for the production of guns, airplanes, tanks and ships became much higher than the available supply from mining and smelting ores. The practice of recycling scrap metal, although not altogether new, became widespread in countries like Canada, the US and the UK. It also became considerably more efficient, with the introduction of new technologies at every step of the production process.

The metal recycling industry feels a similar sense of urgency today. Mining and smelting ore involve considerable greenhouse gas emissions and thus contribute to global warming. In contrast, recycling scrap metal is a much less polluting process. As a result, innovation and growth in this industry is directly tied to the fight against climate change. 


Today, the industry carries on its legacy of innovation through continual efforts to make scrap metal recycling a more productive and energy-efficient process.

New technologies for sorting


Not long ago, scrap metal that came to recycling facilities was sorted by hand. Today, sensors and sorting machines do much—and in some cases, all—of this work. For example, the Saturn project in Germany uses X-ray technology to sort non-magnetic metals, allowing for a quicker recycling process and the retention of more recyclable material. In Norway, Tomra Systems has produced the same outcome through laser object detection, or LOD, technology, which identifies non-metallics—such as wood, rubber and glass—attached to metal products so they can be removed and in turn recycled.

Other innovative technologies


In addition to sophisticated sorting techniques, many recycling facilities have developed technologies specific to the metal products they recycle. Here are just a few examples:


  • Vehicle recycling facilities in Japan have been able to benefit from a study done by Tohoku University, which found that sorting scrap car parts into eight categories was the best method for maximizing the amount of recyclable material. The process is expected to save Japanese steelmakers $287 million on raw materials.
  • Kuusakoski Recycling in Finland developed a new method for extracting copper, titanium and niobium from MRI scanners no longer in use. As a result, more of the material from these devices can be recycled. 
  • The European project Twincletoes recovers steel fibres from end-of-life tires to be used as a reinforcing agent in concrete.


Scrap metal recycling and car disposal in Edmonton

For over forty years, businesses in Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park have relied on General Recycling Industries Ltd. for eco-friendly metal recycling. We also provide scrap vehicle disposal services for individuals. Contact us today!