The Complete History Of Metal Recycling

By Adam Ioannidis

Scrap metal is a commonly recycled thing nowadays. You don’t have to look far if you’re looking to sell scrap metal for it to be recycled and repurposed. But did you know that the process of recycling scrap metal has been around since as early as 400 B.C? That’s pretty old. We hear scrap metal recycling and think of machines reshaping large pieces or other types being melted down and separated into different materials. But that wasn’t always the way it was done. 

Ancient times

Historians have suggested that early Roman culture would melt down their bronze coins and repurpose that bronze to craft statues instead. In addition to this, it has been suggested that during wartime jewellery and other metal objects were melted and instead made into weapons. 

In fact, you could say that the majority of items made of metal – bronze and alloys such as iron and copper – in the earlier days pre-1100 B.C were recycled. When iron became more common, ironsmiths would be constantly melting iron items down and remaking them into new things. Precious metals such as gold as well were never thrown away or deemed worthless. If gold statues were no longer needed, they were melted down, not thrown away.

This is based on the evidence that there are fewer physical items found around digs that are dated around times of distress such as famine and war. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Byzantine culture from the ancient city of Sagalassos – now known as Turkey – would recycle glass around 400 B.C.

Pre-industrial revolution

It’s been found that because metal was not being mass-produced, recycling scrap bronze and aluminium was a big practice – especially in Europe. People had to be smarter about using their metal since there wasn’t a lot of it produced, hence the recycling. Though, at this time, the recycling of metal was attributed more-so to economic gain rather than environmental awareness. 

The Second World War

As mentioned in our previous blog, World War II was a big turn for metal recycling, especially in the U.S. With all the war machines needing to be built, citizens were constantly encouraged to donate all the scrap metal they could so it could be repurposed for the war efforts. This became a cultural practice soon enough. 

Large scrap metal drives would attract large crowds and contributors and the drives soon turned into events with performers, activities and speeches. In addition to this, there were competitions held across the country in order to determine which state was donating the most amount of scrap metal, which introduced some healthy competition into the mix and helped encourage contributors.

The logo

Whilst not related to scrap metal specifically, everyone around the world knows the triangular recycling label and exactly what it means. This logo was designed by Gary Anderson in 1970 for a competition held by the Container Corporation of America. It was to signify the world’s first ever Earth Day that was held that year on the 22ndof April. Gary submitted three variations of his design and won the competition out of 500 entries. His logo is – to this day – synonymous with the phrase ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. 

Late 20thCentury

From the 1960s onwards there is a rise in the environmental movements of the world as a push to be more environmentally aware is started. Following this, a man named Rose Rowan came up with the idea of garbage trucks towing recycling trailers behind them in the early 1970s for hard rubbish. This was the beginning of curbside collection which later became a thing in the late 1980s. This innovation improved the rate at which scrap metal and other hard rubbish was recycled as people no longer had to go out of their way to drop it off somewhere. 

Are you looking to sell scrap metal?

With global warming on the rise and our impact on the Earth growing every day, it’s more important than ever to recycle, and what better way to recycle your scrap metal than getting paid to do so. If you’re looking to sell scrap metal, then why not consider Metal Men recycling? With over 50 years of combined experience, we’ll buy all kinds of metal from you and recycle them appropriately. We also offer pick-up services from your home or place of business – as well as drive-in services with forklifts and excavators to help you unload.

If you’re looking to sell scrap metal and would like to know about the services that we offer, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 03 5941 6677 or sending us a message through our website here.

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