Recycling Metal Scrap is a Challenge or an Opportunity?

Manufacture of steel and other metals in India, although generating profits for manufacturers, when combined with recycled metal scrap will lead to greater production of metal at a lower cost

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Recycling metal scrap poses challenges but presents opportunities as well. Globally the metal scrap industry is worth $500 billion which is more than twice as large as the Indian IT industry. While the Indian IT industry has been responsible for integrating the Indian economy with the global economy and for creating tremendous opportunities, the opportunities presented by the metal scrap industry have the potential to eclipse those of the IT industry. India needs other industries to power its economy and metal scrap has the potential to be such an industry. Indian leaders must examine the metal scrap industry because when the opportunities it presents are exploited wisely; it will create considerable wealth for the country.


Potentialities of the Metal Scrap Industry in India

The global metal scrap industry is worth over $500 billion yet India's share of this is a mere $11 billion or 2.2per cent of the industry. India is a vast country which in 2019 is expected to produce over 100 million tonnes of steel. It is today the second largest producer of steel in the world having usurped Japan from that spot early this year, yet most steel and other metals manufactured in India are made from ore extracted from the ground.

This is striking because recycling metal is far more economical than manufacturing metal from extracted ore. Manufacture of steel and other metals in India, although generating profits for manufacturers, when combined with recycled metal scrap will lead to greater production of metal at a lower cost. This will create double benefits. Firstly more metal will be manufactured and secondly, metal will be manufactured at a lower cost.

There are numerous other advantages to recycling metal scrap; for one it doesn't harm the environment. Consider that extracting ore creates pollution and wastes energy. On the other hand, the metal that has been already extracted is like a rich mine that doesn't have to be mined.

All the metal that exists as scrap has already been mined; hence the energy that was used to mine it is used optimally years after it has been exhausted. Also when metal scrap is recycled it meets demand that otherwise could be met only by ore extracted from the ground, hence less ore is extracted from the ground. When less ore is extracted from the ground, less energy is wasted.

Importantly, when metal scrap is recycled it produces fewer emissions than are produced when an ore is mined, and as recycled metal is used to meet the demand that earlier was met by metal extracted from ore, emission levels will drop because less ore is extracted. Gradually this will lead to an improvement in the quality of air in Indian cities which are the most polluted in the world. Less pollution, in turn, will lead to better health and a higher quality of life for millions of Indians. It will also lead to lower healthcare costs and higher standards of living.

There Are Challenges as Well

Scrap metal recycling has the potential to be a transformative disrupter in the Indian economy, but it faces significant hurdles as well. For one the scrap metal recycling industry is almost completely unorganised. Secondly, the government doesn't yet recognise it as an official industry. These are significant hurdles.

A Reason for Cheer

Despite little support from the government a few leading startups are marching ahead to realise this industries full potential. They are using blockchain technology to strengthen supply chains. Doing so makes the logistics process transparent, traceable, and authentic for the benefit of end users. Such a process ensures buyers there is no radioactive material in the supply chain.