Many often wonder whether or not recycling costs may actually cancel out the environmental benefits. This is especially true for scrap metal recycling, which is more difficult for individuals and expensive for industry in most cases, than plastic or cardboard recycling is.
A true cost-benefit analysis that takes all factors into consideration, though, will always show that the benefits of recycling, including scrap metal recycling, truly do outweigh recycling costs—for individuals, the recycling industry, and the planet.
Let’s take a closer look at this by focusing on the costs and benefits of recycling in great detail, so you can decide if scrap metal recycling costs—or the cost of any other form of recycling—outweigh the negatives.
Recycling Costs and Benefits: Environmental
The environmental cost of recycling, especially recycling of heavier materials like scrap metal, can be broken down into essentially two types: costs associated with moving the recyclable material and costs associated with the recycling process itself.
Costs associated with moving the scrap material include the burning of gasoline or diesel fuel to move the material—which can take a lot of fuel to move, especially when it comes to heavy scrap metal.
However, the majority of the environmental cost of recycling materials such as scrap metal comes from the recycling process itself. Recycling consumes vast amounts of energy.
That being said, the energy consumed by recycling material is often much less than the energy that would be required to produce new material. For example, recycling new aluminum takes about 8% of the energy required to mine for new aluminum. Even factoring in recycling costs, the end result is a huge environmental benefit.
On top of the reduced energy consumption, recycling allows industries that need these materials to avoid harming the environment through other ways—such as the huge expenditure of materials involved with mining or the dumping of chemicals used to synthesize new materials.
Some of the materials that are the most costly to recycle are also the most environmentally beneficial. Steel, for example, because of its weight, is difficult to move around, and consumes a great deal of fuel. However, the process for making new steel involves both mining of iron and synthesis of steel from iron and other metals or chemicals. Because of steel’s high demand and use in virtually every industry, recycling steel can have a huge, positive environmental impact.
Recycling Costs and Benefits: Financial
When it comes to the financial side of things, costs of recycling include the gasoline and energy costs mentioned above, as well as the labor and time involved with recycling. If you’re an individual, your time is worth something to you, and if you’re a business owner, you have to pay your workers. However, savings and direct financial gains from recycling offset all of these costs virtually every time—both for recyclers and for businesses that buy recycled materials.
Because recycling is easier and less energy-intensive than mining or synthesizing new materials—especially when it comes to mining the types of metals that are recycled at scrap recycling facilities like Encore—recycling is also cheaper. Because businesses can save so much money by buying recycled metals instead of mining new metals, recycling facilities like Encore can stay in business, while paying regular people like you for recycled scrap metal.
Scrap metal recycling benefits everyone financially. By providing a bit of labor and material, you can earn money. By providing energy and recycling equipment, Encore also benefits—and then industry gets a boost at the other end, by purchasing recycled material instead of mining or making new material. In many cases, these savings are passed on to the consumer in the form of cheaper goods, meaning that even people who are not directly involved with the recycling cost do better financially because of recycling.
When all of the environmental and financial costs and benefits are taken into account, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular to recycle scrap metal in Dallas and elsewhere. The process is truly beneficial for everyone in a variety of ways—and what’s better than making or saving money while protecting the planet?