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Rajesh Gupta of Nupur Recyclers
Photo provided by Nupur Recyclers

5 sectors driving the demand for metal recycling

The founder of India-based Nupur Recyclers identifies five drivers of global growth in recycled metals demand and prices.

April 19, 2022

Metal recycling is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and one of the most important ways to preserve the environment. There are several sectors that are rapidly increasing the demand for recycled metals.

1. The construction industry is booming, driving the demand for metal recycling.

The construction industry is a major driver of demand for metal recycling. Buildings and infrastructure are constantly being built and upgraded, which requires huge amounts of metal. This creates a constant need for recycled metals, which helps ]sustain the recycling industry. The construction industry is responsible for 40 percent of the world’s consumption of iron, steel and aluminum. There are more than 1 million active construction sites in India alone. This number has been growing steadily since 2010, which means that more metals will be required to keep up with this growth.

2. Automobiles are becoming increasingly complex, requiring more metal parts.

The automobile industry is a huge consumer of metal. It takes a lot of metal to build the frames, engines and other parts of cars and trucks. This means the automotive industry is one of the biggest drivers of demand for recycled metals. In fact, a vehicle today is reused and recycled at an average rate of 80 percent by weight. Of that, 65 percent to 70 percent corresponds to its metallic components while the rest (10 percent to 15 percent) corresponds to the parts that are dismantled and reused or recycled. Aluminum prices are up nearly 50 percent since 2009, while steel prices are up about 25 percent. This has helped increase profits for recyclers, as well.

3. Consumer electronics contain a high percentage of precious metals that can be recycled.

With the increasing global population, the metal recycling industry is constantly growing due to the demand for consumer electronics. Most people are unaware of the number of metals that are used in these devices and the amount of discarded materials they produce. Cell phones, laptops, tablets and other gadgets contain a variety of metals, including gold, silver, copper and aluminum. When these devices reach the end of their life cycle, it is important to recycle them properly to avoid harming the environment. Recycling centers process electronic scrap by breaking it down into component parts. Perhaps only 12.5 percent of e-scrap is currently recycled globally. For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, more than 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

4. Green energy initiatives are increasing the demand for recycled metals.

With the growing demand for green energy, recycling companies can increase their bottom line by selling metal and other materials to local and global markets. There are many benefits associated with recycling your old products, such as reducing waste, saving space in landfills, reducing air pollution from incinerators and providing jobs for people who would otherwise be unemployed due to lack of work opportunities or poor economic conditions. There’s also an environmental benefit because less raw material needs to be extracted,  which means fewer trees need to be cut down. By using recycled materials, industries can help keep valuable resources out of landfills while also reducing their emissions.

5. Defense and aerospace also are driving metal recycling demand.

The recycling of metals is becoming more important in the defense and aerospace industries as they work to reduce their environmental impact. The defense and aerospace sector is finding new ways to use recycled metal in its planes, jets and other products. The demand for recycled metals in the aerospace sector is increasing at a rapid pace due to a rise in global air traffic, a growing focus on reducing carbon footprints and stringent government regulations. According to recent reports, more than 40 percent of new aircraft models are designed with at least 50 percent secondary aluminum content. This helps manufacturers reduce costs, as well as their environmental footprint. It is estimated that if all aircraft built in 2020 used 50 percent secondary aluminum content, it would save over 320,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. With continued innovation and growth in this sector, we can expect to see even more benefits in the years to come.

The author is the founder of New Delhi-based Nupur Recyclers.