In general, metal recycling is a pyramid industry with many small companies at the bottom feeding scrap to large multi-nationals at the top. Steel recycling involves some, or all, of the following steps:
Sorting: Magnets attract steel and so, through the use of magnetic belts, this metal can be easily separated from other recyclables such as paper in a recycling facility. Different kinds of steel do not need to be separated.
Shredding: Shredders incorporate rotating magnetic drums to extract iron and steel from the mixture of metals and other materials.
Media separation: Further separation is achieved using electrical currents, high-pressure air flows and liquid flotation systems.
Shearing: Hydraulic machinery capable of exerting enormous pressure is used to cut thick, heavy steel recovered from, for example, railways and ships. Other cutting techniques, such as the use of gas and plasma arc torches, are sometimes employed.
Baling: Iron and steel products are compacted into large blocks to facilitate handling and transportation.