The value of scrap metal exported from the UK

12 Dec 2017


The scrap metal industry is a booming one with increasing demand from places like South East Asia. Automobiles make a large chunk of scrap metal and will continue to do so in years to come. It is due to the increasing number of cars on the roads, the presence of a world standard recycling plant in Newport, powerful industrial shredder and the drive towards environmental sustainability. All of these factors have contributed to the increase in the volume of scrap cars exported to international markets like China. Automobiles are the single most recycled consumer product in the world and about 80% of the parts in a vehicle can be reused after going through the recycling process.

We looked at a report from Statista expressing the value of scrap metal exported from the UK in an 8 year period. The period being looked at spans from 2010 to 2016. The value of metal exported is viewed in pounds and we’ve witnessed a gradual increase and decrease in the annual figure as the year progresses. It has been a gradual increase and a subsequent decrease in the value of exported aluminum.

exportation of scrap metal

Source: Statista

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As expressed by the above chart, in 2010, the total value of exported metals from the UK to the world was £557, 174, 000. Interestingly, this figure increased to £606, 027 in the subsequent year. The year 2012 experienced a slight decline in export value but was still higher than 2010. A total of £573, 344, 000 million pounds worth of export was achieved in 2012. There was a considerable drop of over £103,000,000 in the subsequent year and that went slightly up in 2014 and surprisingly went back down in the year 2015 and 2016 respectively. One could easily attribute the reduction in the value of exports to the world as a result of an increasing adoption of recycled materials by UK companies. These UK companies applying metals are aware that the recycled units provide vital secondary raw materials for the manufacturing of vehicles and appliances. In addition, absorbing recycled metals in a given manufacturing process is instrumental to the reduction of the use of energy and virgin resources.

Overall, the metal recycling industry is instrumental to the UK economy in terms of its exportation and internal use by manufacturing companies. Recycling of these scrap units helps the UK cover it’s ‘end of life’ targets on such products like vehicles, batteries and electric equipments. Whilst we looked at how the value of exporting scrap metals has changed over the years, it is also important to note that the use of these secondary materials internally helps to prevent the excessive use of precious natural resources. The reuse of recycled metals is believed to reduce CO2 emissions by about 200 million tonnes annually. On the other hand, making use of recycled steel for the manufacturing of new steel reduces air pollution by approximately 86 percent, water use by over 40 percent and water pollution by 76 percent.

It could easily be noted that the UK produces more scrap metal that exceeds national demand. About 90% of the total scrap metal produced in the UK is exported to the global markets. This enormous level of the exportation of used metals has led to the UK being considered as one of the five largest metal exporting countries in the world.