How Do Balers & Shears Maximize Scrap Metal Recovery?

Bin with recycled scrap metalDemolition companies in Portland and other major metropolitan centers often have scrap material leftover at the end of a project. This scrap can be turned into a lucrative commodity. Recycled steel accounts for over half of all steel used globally.

The decision comes down to whether or not you can maximize profits by shipping the scrap to a scrapyard and processing center or use balers and shears to recover the scrap material. Both can be extremely profitable, but that profitability depends on a number of factors, from labor costs to the terrain of the project and its surroundings.

How Balers & Shears Work

First, let’s answer the question of how material recovery machines like balers and shears work.

Balers compact material into cubes in order to maximize truckloads. Balers can be used to compress different grades of paper, metals, and plastics. These kinds of materials are commonly found in debris from industrial demolition sites.  

Shears are used for cutting through objects like steel columns, a common scrap material for industrial demolition companies.  Shears can also be excavator attachments which can apply 15,000 tons of force. They can dramatically reduce a project’s time, up to 30% or more. They are able to cut scrap metal into more manageable sizes so it can be either shipped to a scrap recycler for baling and processing or baled on site.

Benefits to the Construction & Demolition Industry

Large pile of recycled metalThe construction industry uses myriad recycled metals that have either been imported or created domestically. The metal recovered from industrial demolition sites by Portland demolition contractors serves to create strong business relationships between contractors and scrap recyclers. These relationships are lucrative and ensure metal does to leave the recycling loop.

Environmental Benefits

Ensuring that metal does not leave the recycling loop has obvious environmental benefits. Less land must be used for ore extraction and can be cultivated for other uses. Recycling a single ton of steel saves “2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone” and has other numerous environmental benefits.

By recycling scrap metal, pollution from the ore refinement process in the form of greenhouse gasses is reduced by up to 500 million tons. Additionally, water pollution is reduced by an additional 76% and 145 million tons of waste is diverted from landfills.


If the environmental benefits weren’t enough, using recycled scrap metal and recycling scrap metal after an industrial demolition can save companies money and even lead to an additional stream of income. The scrap recycling industry alone generates over 105 billion dollars and year, and scrap exporters generate an additional 28 billion.

Should Demolition Companies Invest in Balers & Shears?

robot demolition sitePortland demolition contractors often find themselves with tons of scrap material left over from a job site, and it often becomes necessary to decide between investing in the costs of a baler and shears or shipping the scrap material to a scrap recycler.

On-site balers allow demolition companies in Oregon to quickly prepare the scrap for sale to scrap recyclers and create a cleaner – and therefore more valuable – product.  A mobile baler allows you to bring the baler to the material instead of the other way around, saving you the time and labor involved with preparing the material to be shipped.  

Another major factor you should consider is how far away the scrap recycler is from the demolition site. Most demolition companies in Portland have some sort of relationship with a scrap recycler, so considering the cost of shipping the distance between the site and the recycler is key to keeping scrap recycling profitable and the scrap within the recycling loop.

Another major factor is if the industrial demolition site has difficult or remote the terrain. The difficult terrain can make it more difficult and more expensive to ship loose material than compacted material. The loose material cannot be loaded onto a truck with the same efficiency, and often you end up shipping less weight than you could if the same material was put through a baler first.

The costs associated with initial set up and labor for the baler and shears may seem daunting, but ultimately using both on-site can allow you to ship more scrap at a higher quality than shipping the material loosely in a truck.

In the end, it comes down to the specifics of the job site, but the economic benefits of recycling the scrap that is generated from industrial demolition is an obvious one to many Portland demolition contractors.

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