The Atlantic magazine features an informative story about recycling scrap metals. It profiles the Louis Padnos Company, a generations old scrap metal processor in Holland, Michigan. The story is a good overview of our industry by James Fallows entitled Holland: Where Things Go After the Recycling Bin.
Scrap metal recycling is rooted in family run operations all over America. Most of those business continue to evolve in size and scale, with impressive machinery, environmental stewardship, and leading technology. All while maintaining the local relationships, knowledge, and the neighborly approach that built the business over decades.
A successful processor operates a large fleet of service and delivery trucks, material handling equipment, and high powered metal shredders, steel shearing machines, baling presses, and sorting equipment. They sell recycled metals on a national and world market, following commodity prices, and trading across time zones. The mix of skills and experience needed the run a recycling business is unique.
You’ll enjoy Mr. Fallows profile story above. For a more in depth look, consider Adam Minter’s Junkyard Plant. More information on the scrap metal industry can be found at the industry association site ISRI.