Scrap metal recycling involves the recovery and processing of scrap metal from product manufacturing or consumption that can be re-introduced as a raw material in the production of new goods. Often, scrap metal recycling is less resource intensive than using virgin materials. It is important in diverting recyclable metal materials away from landfills which in turn acts as a more efficient and lower emission strategy. Scrap metal recycling usually involves two main categories: Ferrous metals contain some amount of iron, while nonferrous scrap metals include metals like aluminum, copper, lead, and others. For example, copper scrap is used at smelters and refineries to produce refined copper which can be used in power cables.
Scrap materials can also include nonmetallic scrap like recovered paper and materials, as well as plastic scrap, and electronic waste. Recovered fiber (paper) is one of the most recycled products worldwide. This material is then further processed to make new products such as packaging, tissue, and newsprint. Paper and fiber products are graded to define paper specifications that are important in the production of new products. Specifications can indicate information such as where the paper was collected, fiber content and composition, and levels of other materials. Plastics from engineered and industrial sectors are often high-grade materials and can be used as part of components in a wide variety of applications. However, cost-effective recycling has only been available in the past few decades, proper life-cycle assessment must be undertaken in all industries to reduce the amount of landfilled plastic.