Recycling in the steel industry

Working with steel every day gives you a real appreciation of just how remarkable the material really is. Not only is steel incredibly durable and versatile, it’s also 100% recyclable. In fact, it is cheaper to recycle steel than to mine iron ore and produce new steel.

Sources of steel scrap

Steel scrap can come from a range of sources, some more obvious than others. Scrap is generated during steelmaking, in manufacturing processes like profile cutting as slag and off-cuts, and from obsolete machinery or products.

Each year, scrap merchants process about 1.9 million tonnes of ferrous scrap. Here are just some of the steel items they recycle:

  • Heavy steel like plates, beams and columns
  • Obsolete machinery and automobiles
  • Reinforcing bars, mesh and wire
  • Rails and tram tracks
  • Domestic scrap like sheet metal off-cuts, white goods, roofing iron, water heaters

The bulk of Australia’s steel scrap that is ultimately recycled is generated in our eastern states. This is due to lower collection and transport costs, and the density of industry and population.

Interesting steel recycling facts

Just for fun, here are some interesting facts about steel recycling:

  • Recycling one tonne of steel saves 1,131kg of iron ore, 54kg of limestone and 633kg of coal.
  • Every week in Australia, 17.5 million steel cans are recycled – enough steel to build 900 new cars.
  • Steel products can be recycled repeatedly without loss of strength.
  • Australians send enough steel to landfill every year to make 40,000 fridges.

With 5,000+ tonnes of plates stocked, we know steel inside and out. Over the past 20 years, ShapeCUT has grown to be Queensland’s largest profile cutting and metal processing company. With stock on hand, we deliver fast and precise steel cutting, plus complete end-to-end services that include drilling, tapping, bending, bevelling and more.

Contact us today to find out more about ShapeCUT Brisbane and our steel profile cutting services.


Steel & Aluminium Fact Sheet, SITA Australia

Ferrous metal recycling, Wikipedia