We all know steel is a product which can and needs to be recycled. When its life as one product comes to an end, there is an endless list of other applications the steel can be used for. But once the steel is bonded with zinc to form galvanized steel, can it still be recycled? The answer is yes. And if there is zinc left over from the galvanization process, is that recycled as well? Yes again. Most products which are used during the galvanization process are recycled for further uses not only in galvanizing, but also in refined zinc and steel applications.
Zinc. During the galvanization process, not all of the zinc which is used bonds to the steel to create galvanized steel. This leaves a lot of leftover zinc which can be used over and over again. Whether the zinc is being sprayed onto the steel or being used in the hot-dip process, very little goes to waste. When it comes to applying zinc to steel by spraying it, the zinc and iron which accumulate at the bottom of the galvanizing bath are fully recovered and used again—often in the same galvanizing process. The finer particles which accumulate at the bottom of the bath are sold for rubber additives, cosmetics, or electronic parts.
Galvanized Steel. Galvanized steel can be recycled in much the same way as any other steel product. When it is recycled in the electric arc furnace or EAF, the zinc in the steel volatilizes rather quickly, is collected, and is then recycled properly and returned to zinc production. When you choose to recycle your steel, you are prolonging its life and making it usable for other applications such as bridges. And since steel has a very long life, there can easily be a shortage of it because it does not need to be recycled often.