Non-Ferrous scrap is metal that does not contain any iron, such as aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, titanium, cobalt, chromium, gold, and silver. Non-ferrous metals do not degrade through the recycling process, which means they can be recycled an infinite number of times. Non-ferrous metals are used in everything from batteries to cars to electronics.

Compressed aluminum cans for recycling. Photo from Norsk Resirk A/S. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Many non-ferrous metals are reused in the same application they were recycled from – that is, an aluminum can is most often recycled into another aluminum can and old copper pipes get turned into new copper pipes. Recycled non-ferrous metals are referred to as “secondary” (as opposed to primary, where raw materials are mined and forged). Because they can be recycled so cleanly, secondary non-ferrous metals are used in all the same things that primary non-ferrous metals are!

Baled aluminum. Photo by RecycleHarmony, January 27, 2016. Courtesy of Flickr.


The energy saved by recycling one ton of aluminum is more than enough to power a US household for a whole year and recycling aluminum uses 95% less energy than producing new from raw materials. Recycling copper saves up to 85% of the energy used to produce from raw materials and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 65%. Using recycled tin saves 99% of the energy needed to produce new tin and recycled zinc uses 76% less energy.

Copper scraps, October 7, 2012. Silver scraps to be melted, June 22, 2015. Copper scraps. Photos by Mauro Cateb. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Because non-ferrous metals don’t contain any iron, they are resistant to rust and corrosion.

A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf in as little as 60 days.

Almost 40% of the world’s demand for copper is met using recycled material.