It’s amazing how much the scrap metal recycling industry—and the world at large—has changed in the past 20 or 30 years. Knowing how much things have changed already, it’s impossible not to think about what the industry and our planet will be like 20 or 30 years into the future.

Predicting the future is a tough business, but there are plenty of people—from scrap collectors to environmental activists to corporate executives—who are interested in knowing where scrap metal recycling is going.

With all the data we have access to today, combined with experience and know-how in the world of scrap, many of us think we know where things are headed. The good news is that, though there are a few challenges, the future of scrap metal recycling looks very bright.

What Will Change in the Future of Scrap Metal Recycling

The biggest changes in the scrap industry going forward will be technological. Both scrapping facilities and the objects they recycle will become more and more technologically advanced.

Smarter recycling facilities have been the trend for a while, but the rise of electronic waste is a relatively new phenomenon. While computers and printers have certainly been around for the past 30 years, they’ve become much more common in the past 5 to 10—and this part of the recycling industry looks like it will keep growing for years to come.

Increased e-waste recycling is great news for everyone, because many of the metals used even in everyday electronics like smartphones are very rare compared to iron and even copper. This means that recycling them has an even bigger environmental benefit.

In addition to e-waste and more advanced recycling facilities, there may be another change as well. As tech becomes smaller, more efficient, and more affordable, it’s quite possible that some fairly advanced equipment for testing and sorting metals could soon be in the hands of scrap collectors like you!

There are some other big changes at play too. Increased international trade and developing recycling programs in hundreds of places around the world will mean that all kinds of recycling—both the regular municipal kind and the scrap metal trade—are almost sure to grow.

Some Things Will Stay the Same

While many of these changes are positive, especially when it comes to the environment, we do hope some things will never change. Even as tech advances and changes in the markets lead to the success of large, international recycling companies, there will also always be a place for the local scrap company.

That’s obviously great news for Encore, but it’s also great news for you and the world. More local companies means personal interaction, and keeps community scrap collectors able to operate independently, whether they’re scrapping for a living or just to make some side money.

The reduced transportation costs provided by local recycling facilities also provide a big economic boost—and put a dent in our world’s carbon emissions.

In short, there’s a lot that’s going to change in the recycling industry in the next decades, but some of the best things seem to be here to stay.