By: Mia Sawaya
FORT COLLINS- Plastic is a common recyclable, but metal- at least in my head- is less conventional. That’s why I interviewed Colorado Iron and Metal’s president, Dan Garvin, to learn more about recycling metals.
Colorado Iron and Metal is located both in Fort Collins and Loveland where they sort metals like copper, brass, aluminum, and steel. After sorting the metals, they send them to a refinery where the metals can be used for new products. This helps keep reusable material out of landfills which Dan explains is a main mission of the company.
Last year alone, his company recycled over 35 million pounds of metal! Keep in mind, this is just in the Northern Colorado Area, so these impressive statistics represent the efforts of people like you. You can bring metals to their facility where it will then be sorted based on its magnetic properties and melting points.
Dan explains his employees carry magnets to quicken the sorting process, but you don’t need to worry about this. The only thing required from customers is getting the material to the facility. Yes, I just said customer. Anyone who brings metal to Colorado Iron and Metal’s facilities will be paid for it. So you’re helping the environment and yourself.
Metals are allowed in curbside recycling bins, but Dan explains that these are designed for smaller items like aluminum or tin cans. His facility accepts items from these small cans to large appliances like washers or dryers. Aluminum cans are a popular item at the recycling center and are crushed into 700 pound bales to be exported.
Dan compares the prices of the metals to the stock market as they change daily. His company will sell metals purchased from the community to mills and refineries which will actively recycle the material. Colorado Iron and Metal also exports metals to other countries like Thailand, Japan, and China. However, due to China’s recent reluctance to accept our recycling, Dan’s company is focusing on exporting to other countries for the time being.
Dan explains that China is facing a pollution problem and is having trouble managing their waste. China is also trying to become self-sufficient in producing scrap metal which is why they are not currently accepting other country’s recycling materials. Dan says there are signs that China will not be able to continue their self-sufficiency, which is why he believes they will re-enter the international market within 5 to 10 years.
This brings up the point that recycling reduces a country’s need to mine for new materials. So, as well as lowering landfill levels, recycling metals helps reduce the amount of mining we need to do in the future. And all it takes to contribute to these positive effects, is a drive over to the Colorado Iron and Metal facility. Or, if you are part of a business, you just need to call the facility and they will pick up your metals free of charge. Details about the facilities’ locations in Fort Collins and Loveland can be found at Coloradoironmetal.com.