Recycling of Steel and Stainless Steel

PUBLISHED 11 July 2017

Stainless steel is one of our most used manufacturing materials. However, steels are also economical to recycle, prompting a huge industry in the collection and recycling of steel products.


stainless steel scrap recycling

Iron ore and the alloying elements used to make normal steel stronger. Stainless steels, however, are fairly commonplace, keeping prices low. Thanks to its benefits like the high strength to weight ratio, steel is an ideal material for construction. But you cannot only createbuilding structural parts or vehicle bodies of steel. Due to its durability, formability and join ability, manufacturers appreciate it for a wide range of items.

High value recycling

While the recycling of general steel makes sound economic sense, this is amplified when it comes to stainless steels and their mix of complex and rare alloying elements. Stainless steels may have varying amounts of chromium, nickel, molybdenum and niobium. Along with those, there are the more usual non-metallic components such as carbon and nitrogen found in steels. Those are well worth recovering.
Steels are subject to oxidation. Anyway, they do not suffer the problems with high oxygen affinity that aluminium and other light metals do. The result is that the workers can readily melt steels in air. This is making recycling a much more straightforward operation. The ability to gather and simply melt scrap metal to recreate the original material is very cost effective. The steel industry produced over forty percent of the total amount of 1.600 million tonnes of steel worldwide in 2015 this way.

Recycling criteria

Theoretically, all scrap steel and stainless steel is recyclable. However, in reality, there are restrictions to the total amount of economically recoverage. One can algamate steel products with other materials. For example, in combination with concrete. This cannot be easily – and, crucially, economically – separated and effectively render the raw material only fit for disposal. The driving factor are the relative expenses of new steel production from ore and the commodity market values of steel per tonne. If the overall price for steel rises on the markets, it becomes more economic to recycle.

melting stainless steel for recycling

The situation with stainless steel is more complex as it has a greater inherent value compared to normal steels. Generally, stainless steel products are easier to spate from other materials. These include sinks, kitchenware, tools and machining scrap from workshops. Because of this, approximately eighty to ninety percent of stainless steel is successfully recovered. With a melt’s chemistry easily measurable by assaying, we can reproduce the final grade.

Ease of recycling steels

Steel mills melt both steel and stainless steel scrap, once cleaned, directly in an apparatus such as an electric arc furnace. After that, the melt passes to a steel converter to remove excess carbon and nitrogen. Once carried out, at a ladle station a final analysis process allows metallurgical adjustments to the materials chemistry.
Once formed into ingots the material is stored for later ongoing production process. Generally a hot rolling process transforms the slabs into plates or profiles and sections. So they are sent out as new products. This ease of recycling helps encourage industry to embrace the practice. It is also leading to less landfill while reducing the worlds need for raw materials. This last factor has a large impact, as the extraction of ores is both energy-intensive and destructive.

recycling stainless steel scrap

Recycling offers a convenient and cost-effective route to the manufacture of these essential materials. Recycling is surprisingly easy to carry out in an endless cycle. As natural resources continue to dwindle, recycling steels and stainless steels offer a route to ensuring that we don’t run short of these essential materials.

Green products

Several customers do ask Montanstahl about so called “green” and “ecological” products. Asking for a high level of recycled material within the raw material’s melt.
Montanstahl does source its raw material mainly at prestigious European mills that do comply with high levels of recycled steel and stainless steel, reaching values of up to ninety and more percent.

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