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Priority Waste

Metal Recycling

Most people are familiar with metal recycling, and in many cases, there is scope for earning rebates subject to quantities and types of metals.

Most metals can be re-used and placed back in to manufacturing and can be re-used again and again. Contact us to assess and grade your metals.

What is metal waste?

Iron – Iron comprises almost 5% of the Earth. Therefore, it is an easy metal to find. However, pure metal is not a stable element, as it immediately reacts with the oxygen present in the air, creating iron oxide.

Taking iron from its ores requires the use of a blast furnace. The first stage of the blast furnace will yield pig iron, which can be refined further to obtain pure iron. This iron usually ends up in steel and other alloys. This is why almost 90% of manufactured metals are ferrous in nature.

Steel – Although pure iron is stronger than most metals, it is prone to corrosion. To keep corrosion away, you will need to spend a lot of energy and money. Iron is also extremely heavy due to its high density.

Thus, steel was made by adding carbon to iron to alleviate these weaknesses to some extent. This combination of carbon and iron forms carbon steel, which is stronger than iron. As a result, steel is commonly used as a building material. Depending on its iron content, you can classify steel into three categories – low carbon steel, medium carbon steel, and high carbon steel.

Copper – Copper is easy to form, which is why it has a long history and the applications it has today are the biggest instances of how important it is. Because copper does not come from nature in a pure form, smelting and extracting it from its ore is crucial.

Metals are good conductors, but copper stands out as the best. You will find copper conductor wires in electrical circuits due to its extraordinary electrical conductivity. The only metal that can beat copper’s conductivity is silver. This may be why most cooking utensils are made from copper.

Bronze – Bronze is an alloy of copper. However, unlike zinc, bronze contains tin. You can improve its properties and aptness for a specific application. Bronze is hard, brittle, and resists fatigue well. Bronze also has good thermal and electrical conductivity as well as corrosion resistance. Bronze is applied in the making of reflectors and mirrors. It is also employed within electrical connectors. Because of its resistance to corrosion, it is used in ship fittings and submerged parts.

Brass – Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper. The amount of each metal may vary because of the mechanical and electrical properties that are sought from the metal. It consists of trace amounts of several metallic elements, such as manganese, lead, and aluminium.

Brass serves as an excellent candidate for low friction use, such as in bearings, locks, musical instruments, tools and fittings, and plumbing. Brass is indispensable in inherently safe applications to allow usage and prevent sparks in inflammable surroundings.

Aluminium – Aluminium is derived primarily from bauxite, its ore. It is strong, light, and functional, and is the Earth’s most widespread metal. This is due to its properties, including being lightweight, durable, electrically conductive, and corrosion resistant; it can create alloys with almost all types of metals. Aluminium is easy to machine and does not magnetise.

Titanium – Titanium is a crucial engineering metal because it is lightweight and strong. It also has high thermal stability, even at temperatures as extreme as 480°C. Due to these characteristics, it is applied in the aerospace industry.

It is also used in military equipment, and because it is corrosion-resistant, it is also used for medical purposes. You will also find titanium in sporting goods and the chemical industry.

Gold – It is a bright, slightly orange-yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal in a pure form. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is solid under standard conditions.

Silver – Silver is a relatively soft, shiny metal. It tarnishes slowly in air as sulphur compounds react with the surface forming black silver sulphide. Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver. The rest is copper or some other metal.

Platinum – Platinum is a lustrous silvery-white, malleable, ductile metal and a member of group 10 of the periodic table of the elements. It has the third highest density, behind osmium and iridium.

Hazardous Metals

Lead – Lead is a highly corrosion-resistant, machinable metal. Piping and paint symbolise some of its use cases. It was utilised as an anti-knocking delegate in gasoline. It was later discovered that its by-product could cause serious health complications. You will find lead in car batteries, ammunition, lifting weights, radiation protection, and cable sheathing.

Mercury – Mercury is a naturally-occurring chemical element found in rock in the earth’s crust, including in deposits of coal. On the periodic table, it has the symbol “Hg” and its atomic number is 80. It exists in several forms.

Elemental or metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal, historically referred to as quicksilver, and is liquid at room temperature. It is used in older thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs and some electrical switches. When dropped, elemental mercury breaks into smaller droplets which can go through small cracks or become strongly attached to certain materials. At room temperature, exposed elemental mercury can evaporate to become an invisible, odourless toxic vapor. If heated, it is a colourless, odourless gas.

In its inorganic form, mercury occurs abundantly in the environment, primarily as the minerals cinnabar and metacinnabar, and as impurities in other minerals. Mercury can readily combine with chlorine, sulphur, and other elements, and subsequently weather to form inorganic salts.  Inorganic mercury salts can be transported in water and occur in soil. Dust containing these salts can enter the air from mining deposits of ores that contain mercury. Emissions of both elemental or inorganic mercury can occur from coal-fired power plants, burning of municipal and medical waste, and from factories that use mercury. Inorganic mercury can also enter water or soil from the weathering of rocks that contain inorganic mercury salts, and from factories or water treatment facilities that release water contaminated with mercury.

Although the use of mercury salts in consumer products, such as medicinal products, have been discontinued, inorganic mercury compounds are still being widely used in skin lightening soaps and creams. Mercuric chloride is used in photography and as a topical antiseptic and disinfectant, wood preservative, and fungicide. In the past, mercurous chloride was widely used in medicinal products, including laxatives, worming medications, and teething powders. It has since been replaced by safer and more effective agents. Mercuric sulphide is used to colour paints and is one of the red colouring agents used in tattoo dyes.

Human exposure to inorganic mercury salts can occur both in occupational and environmental settings. Occupations with higher risk of exposure to mercury and its salts include mining, electrical equipment manufacturing, and chemical and metal processing in which mercury is used. In the general population, exposure to mercuric chloride can occur through the dermal route from the use of soaps and creams or topical antiseptics and disinfectants. Another, less well-documented, source of exposure to inorganic mercury salts among the general population is from their use in ethnic religious, magical, and ritualistic practices and in herbal remedies.

When inorganic mercury salts can become attached to airborne particles. Rain and snow deposit these particles on land. Even after mercury gets deposited on land, it often returns to the atmosphere, as a gas or associated with particles, and then redeposits elsewhere.

As it cycles between the atmosphere, land, and water, mercury undergoes a series of complex chemical and physical transformations, many of which are not completely understood. Microscopic organisms can combine mercury with carbon, thus converting it from an inorganic to organic form. Methylmercury is the most common organic mercury compound found in the environment and is highly toxic.

Cadmium – Cadmium (Cd) is a soft, malleable, bluish white metal found in zinc ores, and to a much lesser extent, in the cadmium mineral greenockite. Most of the cadmium produced today is obtained from zinc by-products and recovered from spent nickel-cadmium batteries. First discovered in Germany in 1817, cadmium found early use as a pigment because of its ability to produce brilliant yellow, orange, and red colours. Cadmium became an important metal in the production of nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargeable batteries and as a sacrificial corrosion-protection coating for iron and steel. Common industrial uses for cadmium today are in batteries, alloys, coatings (electroplating), solar cells, plastic stabilizers, and pigments. Cadmium is also used in nuclear reactors where it acts as a neutron absorber. While lithium-ion batteries have made significant gains in popularity for lightweight electronic devices, new market opportunities for industrial applications of Ni-Cd batteries will continue to fuel cadmium use.

Cadmium and its compounds are highly toxic and exposure to this metal is known to cause cancer and targets the body’s cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems.

Others – Whilst the above are the most common forms of toxic metals there are plenty more out there, including Nickel, Chromium, Cobalt, Manganese, Beryllium and so on.

Rare Earth Metals

There are 17 different types of rare Earth metals and the most common one found is Neodymium, commonly found in older style hard drives and used predominantly in hybrid cars and guided missile systems. The whole list of rare metals is: lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), lutetium (Lu), scandium (Sc), and yttrium (Y).

Why use Priority Waste?

  • Can plan your waste area for you
  • Assistance in educating your employees and providing training information on correct waste disposal
  • Fast response from your initial contact, followed by collection and provision of legal documentation
  • Guaranteed collection dates
  • Legal documentation provided and stored on your customer portal for ease of access
  • All waste streams can be managed sustainably and legally
  • Cost effective solutions
  • Waste Hierarchy always followed
  • Detailed monthly reporting structure for total waste management
  • Monthly invoices
  • Ad-hoc collections carried out within 8 working days
  • Emergency back-up for failed regular collections
  • National Coverage


  • Skips – 6 – 20 yard – Usually used for Irons, steels, aluminium’s

  • Cut-Top IBC’s – Suitable for smaller users.

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Can you offer rebates for all of my scrap metal?

This depends on quantities generated and/or the types of metals, Transport and processing costs are always taken in to account.

Can you assess my metal waste for rebates?

Yes – we can initially have a discussion to find out what types of metal you are generating, and if necessary, we can attend site and even sample and analyse higher grade metals with the view of providing rebates.

I have some electrical waste that is predominantly made up of scrap metal – Can I put this in a metal skip?

No, this waste stream is classed as WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and must be disposed of under the WEEE Directives (See our WEEE Pages). This would contaminate pure metal loads

Is all metal recyclable?

Most metal is recyclable as long as it is not contaminated with hazardous substances.

Can you collect from multiple sites around the UK?

We can offer ad-hoc on-off collections and arrange ongoing regular waste services throughout the UK.

Do you provide paperwork that meets with current UK legislation?

Yes, we provide Waste Transfer notes and Hazardous Waste Consignment Notes subject to collection type. This information is permanently available for you to view and download on our customer portal.

How easy to access and use is your customer portal?

Extremely simple to use, we have recently carried out a survey (December 2022) on the ease of use and accessibility of our portal amongst over 2000 customers and we didn’t receive a single negative comment. The feedback received was a mix of 4 and 5 stars.

How do I arrange regular and ad-hoc collections?

Regular collections are arranged at the outset of your agreement and are logged on to our customer portal with a start and end date. You will then be able to view the agreed collection dates during the entire service. Ad-hoc collections can be arranged via our customer portal, email or the trusted way of phoning in to our customer services team who will then arrange the service quickly and efficiently.

We had great difficulty contacting our current/previous provider whenever there was an issue and had very long waiting times. We felt that we were not valued customers. How is your customer services rated?

Our fully trained customer services team are trained to handle any issues. We do not have extremely long waiting times and usually answer the phone within a few moments. We take great old-fashioned care in looking after our customers, and therefore we retain them. Try us and see.

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