Can You Recycle Rusted Metal?

by Greenway Metal Recycling | Dec 18, 2021

Most companies that recycle metal know that you can recycle stainless steel, copper wire, aluminum cans, metal pipes, or other common types of metal. But what about common metals that have rust?

The good news is that you can recycle rusted items. And just like other recyclable items, they can be turned into new products. Recycling can help preserve our planet’s natural resources and turn a profit for your business!

In your line of work, you may come across common items that are rusted out. The good news is that you can help remove the rust or turn it in as-is, and still make a profit in the scrap metal recycling market. The following tells you how to do just that!

What is Rust?

Rust is what most people call a chemical compound known as iron oxide. This compound occurs when iron or similar metal products contact and react to water and oxygen. Once that happens, rust forms on the surface of metals and looks like a rough substance that is a reddish-brown color.

While different types of metals can get corroded in similar ways, ferrous metals that are iron and its alloys, have the raw materials necessary to become true rusty metal. You have likely seen such examples of rust on old car parts at a local scrap yard.

Since nonferrous metal does not have significant iron or magnetic properties, it does not rust.

Can You Recycle Rusted Metal?

The short answer is yes. You can recycle rusted metal.

However, there are some preparation methods you can take to get a higher price for your company’s return.

How to Recycle Rusted Metal

Scrap metal recyclers or anyone looking to recycle ferrous scrap metals can easily prepare rusty metal for the recycling process. The following steps will help you get the best price for your metal items at the local recycling center.

Remove Light Rust from Heavy Metals

If your metal is only slightly rusted, you can likely remove the rust pretty easily. You can purchase a rust-remover product from any hardware store or even make your own rust-remover. Or, you can use a sander, grinder, or steel wool to chip it away.

Non-rusty metal is worth more, so a little elbow grease can earn you more money at the recycling center.

Prevent Rust from Forming in the First Place

You can also take preventive measures for items you know you may want to recycle someday. By preventing rust from forming in the first place, you’ll guarantee a bigger payout for you down the line.

There are anti-corrosion applications that can spray or rub on recyclable metals exposed to the elements. Or, you can store them in a dry location.

Recycle Items with Severe Rust Damage

You can certainly maximize your profit by selling metal materials without a lot of rust. But you are bound to have some items that you can’t get clean. Or maybe it’s just not worth your time to clean them. If that’s the case, just go ahead and recycle them as-is. You may not get as much money, but some money is better than none!

Metal Scrap Recycling, Chicago

Greenway Metal Recycling offers recycling and brokerage services to Commercial & Industrial Companies in the Chicagoland area. We offer one-time and regularly scheduled pick-up services and a free scrap metal audit. Contact Us to learn more.

Read Next: Benefits of a Free Scrap Metal Audit by GMR

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