Recycling versus Scrap Metal

de | Dec. 4, 2021 | Articles, News

We often encounter the confusion of citizens regarding the delivery of electrical waste to informal scrap metal collectors, a problem that is increasingly present in the field.

Disposal of used electronics for recycling should only be carried out by authorized collectors or specialist collection points and not by informal scrap collectors.

What is the difference between the two?

Delivery to authorized collectors ensures the recycling of damaged damaged equipment.

recycling means the treatment of electrical waste according to environmental standards. This process includes the recovery of secondary raw materials resulting from other production processes, as well as the neutralization of hazardous substances. On the other hand, the delivery of electrical waste in the wrong flow namely at scrap, it only endangers human health, the environment and does not contribute to a circular economy.

Very often, we tend to confuse these two ways of teaching, believing that electrical equipment that contains a lot of iron can be treated correctly at an informal scrap metal collector. Next we will draw a parallel between the two:


Proper recycling
  • It takes place at an electrical waste recycling center, which goes through an elaborate treatment process;
  • Waste is sorted into categories;
  • They are depolluted, the dangerous substances are neutralized and do not reach nature;
  • Depolluted waste is shredded and the resulting secondary raw materials are sorted and reused in the manufacture of other equipment;
  • Attention is paid to occupational safety and occupational exposure standards.
  • Hazardous substances are not extracted from equipment, but are dispersed in the environment, polluting and affecting both flora and fauna and human health. There are no specialized facilities for extracting and handling hazardous substances here. The most common example is that of refrigerators, where the freon is not extracted correctly and is released into the atmosphere.
  • Only iron and copper-containing components are of interest here. Dangerous substances, plastic components, glass, rubber are, in most cases, burned uncontrollably, as in the case of cables.


Some old electrical and electronic equipment contain substances that affect the ozone layer, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Newly manufactured equipment currently contains more environmentally friendly substances. The first step in the recycling process is depollution by extracting oils and refrigerants, then the equipment is crushed, and the resulting materials (iron, aluminum, copper, plastic, glass) reach the economy again, contributing to the manufacture of new products.


Iron in refrigerators is used, for example, in the manufacture of car engine blocks. By recycling a refrigerator we save the equivalent of CO2 emissions that a car generates in 20 km.

There are also elements that, after treatment, do not have the quality of “recyclables”, but they have energy value and can be co-incinerated in thermal power plants or in the cement production industry: wood, plastic, rubber, etc.

Recycling must be seen through the two great benefits for our planet: 1. Protection of the environment and human health and 2. Circular economy - the re-entry into the manufacturing flow of certain materials.


Alexandra Nicolescu