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Stainless Steel

What is steel?

Steel is an alloy of iron, created by introducing carbon to iron. The amount of carbon used to make steel can give it different properties. For instance, carbon steel is extra strong because it has a higher carbon content. 

How is steel made?

The carbon that goes into making steel comes from coal, or “coke.” When making steel from virgin material (never been recycled), newly mined iron ore and other iron-bearing materials are melted along with coke and limestone in an enormous blast furnace to remove impurities and produce the steel alloy. 

Blast furnaces often run continuously for several years and require a great deal of energy. Mining for ore is also energy- and water-intensive, and does significant, lasting damage to the surrounding environment. China, Australia, and Brazil are the three top sources of iron ore in the world. 

Recycling steel conserves energy.

Because steel has already been through the initial production process, it requires far less energy to prepare it for reuse compared to creating new steel. According to the EPA, one ton of recycled steel saves the energy equivalent of 3.6 barrels of oil and 1.49 tons of iron ore over the production of new steel. That is a savings of between 60-74% of the original energy cost, or enough to power about one-fifth of American households for one year. 

Recycling steel saves landfill space.

In a landfill, space is everything, and that makes metal a problem. Steel, like other metals, breaks down so slowly that you might as well say it doesn’t break down at all. That means any steel that ends up in a landfill is there to stay.

Steel is infinitely recyclable.

Steel, like virtually all metals, can be recycled over and over again without losing the properties that make it valuable and useful. The only other material that can claim infinite recyclability is glass. Other materials, such as plastic, paper, and cardboard, eventually degrade and become useless. 

Cohen got its start thanks to steel.

The business now known as Cohen Recycling started with two teenage brothers who immigrated to the U.S. from Russia at the turn of the 20th century and settled in Middletown, Ohio. Around the same time, Middletown also became home to the American Rolling Mill Company, or ARMCO, a mill producing rolled sheets of steel. ARMCO was the predecessor to what is today known as AK Steel. Its first steel mill opened in Middletown in 1901, at a time when technological innovations were making it more viable to work with existing steel in new ways.

For the Cohen brothers, the steel mill presented an attractive opportunity to support their families – not as steel workers but as scrap metal peddlers. Cohen Brothers, Inc. was incorporated in 1924. To this day, Cohen and AK Steel remain close neighbors in Middletown.

Steel is versatile and has many applications.

It would be hard to go a day without encountering some kind of steel or steel alloy. (An alloy is a blended metal.) Steel is used in everything from cars to computers to home appliances to tin cans. Yes – tin cans are actually 99% steel! 

Cohen accepts all types of steel for recycling.

Call your local Cohen Recycling Center for current pricing. 

More resources:

Locations, Phone Numbers and Hours

First Time Visitor’s Guide

What Can I Recycle?