Over the last years, the British industry has been more than willing to use scrap non-ferrous metals for production. The situation is similar in many other European countries. According to analysts, this is a constant trend that might even get reinforced in the following years. What does it result from and what are the consequences?
Generally speaking, non-ferrous metals are all metals other than iron. The most common ones include aluminium, copper, brass, cobalt, nickel, tungsten, zinc, tin, and titanium, and they are in the highest demand in European and global markets. The popularity of non-ferrous metals mostly results from their high durability, plasticity, corrosion and thermal resistance, and the fact that they can be used to produce alloys. Thanks to their unique physical, chemical, and technological properties, these metals often meet even the strictest requirements imposed by the European industry. They are used in a number of trades, mostly to produce machine parts and structural elements.
The basic non-ferrous metals used in the European industry include:
- Aluminium – the third most abundant element on Earth. Due to its low density and high resistance to corrosion it is used for manufacturing a variety of products, from cans to electrical wiring to spacecraft elements.
- Copper – a semi-precious metal, mostly used in electronics and construction as, for example, raw material for the manufacturing of electrical wiring, vacuum tubes, and CRT displays, and also as roofing material.
- Brass – used for the manufacturing of industrial valving and sanitary tapware, equipment resistant to seawater, ammunition and access hardware. It is used in motor, electrotechnical and shipbuilding industries.
- Nickel – a metal of high resistance to abrasion and corrosion. Mostly used for the galvanic coating of steel items. Nickel alloys are used in the power industry and for the manufacturing of coins.
- Lead – a soft blue and grey metal used for the production of car batteries, batteries, wiring, pipes, acid-resistant chemical apparatus, ammunition and hunting pellets.
- Zinc – a metal mostly used for coating steel sheets in order to ensure their corrosion resistance.
As the European industry and particularly its technological branches develop, requirements of non-ferrous metals grow. A great demand and a decreasing share of Europe in the production of primary metals result in a considerable increase in the amount of metals recycled.