How Do You Recycle A Metal Building?

Posted by Ben Sparhawk on May 21, 2021 3:59:07 PM

Did you know that steel is one of the most recycled building materials in the construction industry?

Any steel product, including steel buildings that reach the end of its lifecycle or are no longer needed, is 100% recyclable. It is one of the many benefits of an industrial steel building.

Any steel decks, steel joists, steel beams, or steel doors can be recycled and used again.

And not only can it be recycled, but it can be recycled into a completely different product.

That means parts of your old metal building could be turned into bicycles.

Steel is often chosen as a building material for its strength and durability, but more and more people choose it now because of its sustainability.

More than 60 million tons of steel are recycled every year in the U.S. alone.

Globally that number increases by almost ten times. It's the most recycled material.

In the article below, we will go over the process of recycling your old metal building and a few of the benefits that come with doing so.

Table of Contents

How A Metal Building Is Recycled

There are seven main stages in the recycling process for a recycled steel building.

Those seven steps are as follows:

Collecting The Steel

The process of collecting metal to be recycled is different from collecting other materials because scrap steel is much more valuable than other recycled materials.

That's why scrap steel is more likely to be sold to scrap yards and not landfills.

Although the structural steel used to make prefabricated metal buildings is often recycled, the largest source of scrap metal in the United States comes from recycled vehicles.

In addition to prefab steel buildings and automobiles, other sources of recycled metal are railroad tracks, ships, and farm equipment.

Steel scrap produced during the manufacturing of new products, called prompt scrap, accounts for half of the scrap metal supply.


The steel from your old building will go through the recycling process

Sorting The Steel

The sorting portion of the recycling process consists of separating the types of metal from the mixed scrap metal stream or the mixed multi-material waste stream.

If the recycling operation is automated, magnets and sensors are used to separate the materials.

Processing The Metal 

To allow for further processing of your old steel structure, the metals will be shredded.

Recycled steel is shredded to make the melting process easier because small shredded metals have a large surface-to-volume ratio.

That means they can be melted using less energy.

Recycled steel is usually converted to steel blocks.

Melting The Steel

The old parts of your prefabricated steel building are now melted in a large furnace.

Each type of metal is taken to a specific furnace designed to meet the different types of steel or other metal material.

This part of the recycling process requires the most energy.

But the energy used in this process and the other steps of the process is much less than the energy required in the steel-making process for new steel.

Based on the size and temperature of the furnace and the amount of metal being melted, melting can take just a few minutes to a few hours.

Purifying The Metal

The purification process ensures that the final recycled product is high quality and free of contaminants.

The most popular method for purifying scrap metal is Electrolysis.

Solidifying The Steel

Once your steel has been purified, the melted steel is placed on a conveyor belt to be cooled and solidified.

During this stage, the steel is formed into specific shapes like the bars we talked about earlier, so they can be used to produce various metal products.

Transporting The Metal

The final stage in the recycling process of any steel construction product is the transportation phase.

Once the steel has been cooled and solidified, it's ready to be used again.

The steel is typically transported to various factories where it will be used as raw material to produce new products, like a brand new prefabricated metal building.

When the new steel building made out of recycled steel is no longer needed, the metal recycling process begins again.


What are the benefits of recycling your prefab steel building?

Benefits Of Recycling Your Metal Building

There are several ways the steel industry and the planet can benefit from recycling old metal building materials.

Environmental Benefits

First, and perhaps the two most significant environmental benefits of recycling old steel are the conservation of landfill space and the reduction of greenhouse emissions.

Already full landfills continue to grow.

When your old pre-engineered steel building is recycled, you are keeping those materials out of the landfills.

Recycling old steel helps to decrease greenhouse emissions.

When steel is recycled and used again, less energy is needed than when a new structural steel element is produced new.

Recovered materials can themselves be used as a fuel source, taking the place of burning fossil fuels.

The U.S. EPA has developed a Waste Reduction Model (WARM), which includes emission factors developed for steel.

For every 350 million tons of building materials recycled, over 22 million metric tons of CO2 are avoided annually.

The equivalent of over 85 million barrels of oil can be saved as well.

In addition to that, the extraction, transportation, and processing of raw materials which can damage the environment are avoided.

Economic Benefits For Recycling Metal Buildings

Recycling your old metal building system also has economic benefits.

The recycling industry employs more people than landfills.

The industry could support up to 19,000 employees at the various recycling facilities.

Recycling facilities benefit the local community through direct financial investments of more than $4.5 billion.

The direct revenue estimate for the industry could result in more than $7 billion and a more significant economic contribution of over $17 billion.

You will also save money by reducing project disposal costs, transportation costs, and the cost of new construction materials by recycling scrap metal on site.

Build Your Pre-engineered Metal Building With CDMG

Just about every steel building you come across will contain at least a little bit of construction steel.

For that and many other reasons, steel is the most cost-effective building material to use.

You build with steel because it's strong, durable, and it provides increased energy efficiency starting with the steel production to the performance of your completed steel building kit.

The metal building team at CDMG can design, supply, and erect your steel building.

Their experts will be with you from step one until the completion of your project, making sure that everything meets your specifications.

With years of experience and expertise in the metal building industry, we will help you get the steel building that's just right for your project.

Click the button below to get started on your pre-engineered metal building project.

Get Started On Your Metal Building Project Today CTA CDMG


Check out our other pre-engineered steel building articles:

What Size Metal Building Do I Need?

Topics: Recycle a metal building

About The Author

ben-sparhawkI'm Ben Sparhawk, the Content Writer and Marketing Account Manager for CDMG. I write to showcase the work that CDMG does and everything related to the pre-engineered metal building industry as well as their engineering capabilities. When I'm not working on content, you can find me spending time with my wife and children. You can also find me in the gym, trying to better myself, and I also enjoy spending time outdoors hiking or checking out local parks.