Robotic arms sorting trash and recycling into separate bins for plastic, glass, etc.

The growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has accelerated exponentially in recent years due to continuous research and innovation. AI offers businesses numerous advantages, such as reduced costs, new job creation, improved productivity, and better decision-making capabilities.

By 2022, the market size of AI soared to USD 136.55 billion and is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 37.3% from 2023 to 2030. With its wide range of applications across various industries, such as automotive, healthcare, retail, finance, and manufacturing, AI promises vast opportunities for businesses looking to benefit from this technology. The Scrap Recycling industry is a massive yet technologically underdeveloped sector that has the potential to benefit immensely from AI.


Leveraging AI-Driven Analysis


As metal recyclers grapple with the complexities of managing their operations, AI is being used to help make more informed and profitable decisions. AI helps them analyze large volumes of data – including prices, supply and demand, and trade patterns – far faster than any human could do. Recyclers use this data to swiftly identify trends and make accurate predictions about future market conditions that could impact their profits.

Staying ahead of the curve is crucial for achieving success in the metal recycling industry. AI provides recyclers with a powerful tool to gain insights into market sentiment and predict shifts in the market before they happen. By leveraging AI-driven analysis of news articles, social media posts, and other texts related to the industry, recyclers can make proactive decisions that will keep them competitive.


Using AI Automation to Improve Sorting Efficiency


Illustration of robotic arms sorting recycling on a conveyer beltOver the last several years, the waste management industry has shifted towards automating procedures, starting with the collection process. AI smart bins, for example, use sensors and cameras to monitor waste levels, detect contamination, and optimize collection schedules to improve resource allocation and reduce unnecessary pickups. By learning from historical data through machine learning algorithms, these smart bins can provide valuable insights into waste generation and future demand patterns that would otherwise be impossible to predict, achieving cost savings while also reducing the negative impact on the environment.

In the past, human error and inefficiency have limited the recycling process. AI technology makes it possible to automate the sorting process with unprecedented accuracy, helping to identify metals quickly and efficiently. AI ensures that recycled products meet quality standards by detecting impurities, measuring material composition, and identifying defects. AI sorting capability improves recycling rates by minimizing contamination and providing higher-quality recycled materials.

Deep Learning is a form of AI that uses multiple layers of deep neural networks to learn from large amounts of data. This advanced technology isolates high-level features from raw input, enabling machines to identify patterns, make decisions, and even create new ideas based on what it has learned. It allows for a high level of recovery and accurate sorting of materials that dwarfs conventional technology. Deep-learning robots analyze materials much in the same way humans do. Using cameras and sensors, they scan the optical signature of recyclable materials by texture, color, material type, and product application. For example, AI can discern between:


It can also differentiate metals and contaminants such as:


Thanks to AI technology, it’s now possible to recover and reuse valuable metals like aluminum, which is currently experiencing a shortage. With AI, recycling facilities can retrieve more materials with higher purity levels, increasing recycling rates and reducing reliance on virgin materials.

Glacier, a San Francisco-based tech company, is developing a cutting-edge AI algorithm that can accurately detect over 90% of recyclable items in waste streams. The company specializes in developing customized solutions that select and sort specific materials.

EverSteel, a promising startup from the University of Tokyo, has focused on automating scrap metal sorting processes using AI. It accomplishes this by using computer vision systems, which can accurately classify scrap metal into over 20 categories and remove unrecyclable alloys and irregular material. These systems help to save precious time and effort for the human workers who come in later to complete the task. EverSteel technology is so innovative that they had to create their own data set to train their models.


AI Robots Improve Material Recovery and Labor Rates


EverestLabs, an organization that employs RecycleOS technology, fuses robotics and AI to substantially increase recycling facilities’ material recovery rate. RecycleOS’s cutting-edge AI models can precisely identify nearly indistinguishable objects. When compared with manual sorting, RecycleOS’s robots can perform twice the work in the same span of time.

ZenRobotics‘ Heavy Picker uses specific characteristics like shape or color to identify essential metals such as:


It can also specify objects like:


Scrap metal processing companies like Skrotfrag in Sweden have already employed ZenRobots. Skrotfrag’s sorting line uses Heavy Pickers from ZenRobotics, each with three arms. They stand out as one of the first companies in Sweden to apply robotic sorting technology to scrap metal.

AI robots, like AMP Cortex by AMP Robotics, offer drastic improvements in labor rates. These robots operate at lightning-fast speeds, sorting, picking, and placing materials with up to 120 picks per minute and 99% accuracy rates. Plants adopting the AMP system have reported an impressive 60% rise in labor efficiency and an 11% increase in recyclables capture. The impeccable efficiency of these robots allows them to accomplish in three hours what would take human sorters an entire workday to complete. The operation can accept materials other recycling plants can’t process and keep the whole process in-house. By replacing hard-to-secure human labor for sorting roles, the AMP robots offer facilities unmatched savings of up to 50-70%.

Unlike humans, AI robots can work around the clock, operate continuously without fatigue, and require minimal maintenance. Companies can rely on their consistency to quickly recover high-quality commodities. Robots are flexible machines that can adapt to changes in material streams and commodity prices, making them an essential asset in the recycling industry. With minimal training and refinement, robots can improve their performance over time, becoming more efficient and effective at sorting materials. Additionally, robots can multitask and target a broad range of materials, including challenging or hazardous items that may not be suitable for human workers.

AI and robotics have significantly reduced risks associated with handling hazardous materials at Metal Recycling Facilities (MRFs). Adopting AI in such facilities has also decreased the need for extensive safety training of human operators for working equipment and machinery, thereby reducing training overhead. Moreover, AI technology can help flag potential health and safety issues for operators, such as detecting aerosol bottles, propane and oxygen tanks, batteries, and ammunition, which can explode and cause fires.

MRFs can strategically deploy AI and robotics technologies to optimize their workforce, reallocating human workers to areas where their unique capabilities can add the most value. MRFs can save time and money on manual sorting by replacing lower-value, labor-intensive, or high-risk roles with AI-driven automation, allowing for streamlined operations. In the waste and recycling industry, there is a trend toward reducing the need for humans to work in sorting positions. Instead, the focus is on shifting towards supervisory and maintenance roles, which allows employees to progress into higher-skilled positions.


AI Software Helps Manage and Classify Scrap Metal

Companies are currently utilizing AI technology to develop apps that allow for quick categorization and pricing of scrap metal. Integrated Recycling Technologies (IRT) is developing a circuit board classification app to identify and analyze 75 board characteristics, including serial numbers and chip types, to determine their respective categories. As more images are uploaded, the deep-learning capabilities of the system will expand, allowing for a more comprehensive grading of the boards. IRT has enlisted the expertise of external engineers specialized in high-definition cameras, facial recognition software, and deep-learning technology to create a system that automates the grading and valuation process. Although the software was initially created for suppliers, the company will use it to manage its own circuit board sorting system.

Tecnoap, an esteemed company with three decades of expertise in the steel manufacturing industry, recently introduced its own AI software – SCRAPYARD – an innovative web-based platform dedicated to efficiently managing and classifying scrap metal. SCRAPYARD uses AI, sensors, and machine learning technologies to optimize operations on it’s platform. Advanced vision analytics organize different types of scrap metal, verify the weight of truckloads, determine load density, and accurately document the location of unloaded materials. The platform effortlessly generates a comprehensive digital file for each entry, capturing all the necessary details the supplier provides. By harnessing the power of AI, Tecnoap strives to enhance reliability and transparency, ensuring the eradication of fraudulent practices.


Fast Returns

According to recent analyses, certain AI units have the potential to achieve breakeven for investment in just under a year, highlighting the tremendous potential for profitability within the scrap metal industry. MRFs can generate significant profits within months following the installation of technologies such as RecycleOS, which streamline the recycling process and greatly enhance efficiency. However, it’s important to note that the payback period for such investments can vary depending on its specific application, for example, its utilization in data analysis, maintenance, or replacing human sorters.

Specialized Machinery Leads to Better Prices.

The scrap industry has witnessed remarkable progress thanks to specially designed machinery that not only improves efficiency but also slashes labor and transportation costs. From transporting materials to breaking them down, and separating or condensing them, there’s a machine for every task. Through advancements in AI, optical sorting, and cutting-edge technologies, the industry is improving even further.

Here are some of the most common scrap metal processing equipment and their exceptional features:

Shear – There are many types of shears found in scrap metal recycling facilities. Common shear types include hydraulic alligator shear, guillotine shear, handheld guillotine shear, and mobile rotating shear. The purpose of shearing is to cut metal down to size so that it can fit in bins, containers, and trailers or to upgrade and separate material. Alligator and guillotine shears are stationary machines, whereas a handheld guillotine shear can be transported to cut catalytic converters and the like off vehicles or remove wire and cable from spools. Mobile rotating shears are attached to an excavator and are used to cut larger pieces of metal.

Bailer – used to compact material into a dense package. This reduces footprint and transportation costs.

Portable Scrap Bailer/Logger – portable machine used to bail large, bulky metals.

Wire Stripper – removes the outer coating from wires, and exposes the copper. This improves the price per pound of the material when sold.

Wire Chopper – cuts wire into smaller pieces and separates the jacketing waste, producing a higher-density package.

Material Handler – a machine with a boom fitted with grapples or a magnet. Used to load and unload trucks with ferrous material, move metals in bulk, and process larger units into components.

Forklift –a lift truck that transports materials around the yard. It has movable forks and can pick up pallets, bins, and other items.

Front-end loader – a vehicle used to pick up and move materials. It can push scrap piles or pick up material and transport it in its bucket.

Skid steer loader – a vehicle with lift arms that can attach to a wide variety of buckets and other labor-saving tools or attachments.

Can and Bottle Sorters – a machine that separates bottles and cans.

Can Compactors – a container that accepts aluminum or other types of cans and contains a hydraulic press that compacts cans and squeezes out any liquids. The liquids can then be drained out and recycled responsibly. The compaction of the cans makes the load denser, and this increase in weight can reduce transportation costs.

Eddy current separators – provide temporary magnetism to otherwise non-magnetic metals to facilitate sorting by machine.

Sweat furnace – recovers pure aluminum ingot or sows from irony aluminum and dirty aluminum.

Shredder – uses rotating knives or hammers to reduce metal into smaller pieces for further sorting and to remove contaminants and non-metallics known in the industry as fluff.

Scales – used to weigh customer material. Scales come in many varieties. There are truck scales, which weigh empty and full trucks; platform scales, which weigh smaller amounts of material; and mobile scales, which can weigh trucks on the go.

Hand-held tools – can include drills, impact wrenches, saws, etc.

Car Crushers – specifically designed to compress the remains of a car after it has been stripped of all its valuable parts.

Are you an air conditioning company looking to maximize efficiency and increase your bottom line?

If so, let us be your scrap guys!

HVAC repair man / technicianWhen it comes to HVAC recycling, you can’t go wrong by partnering with the experts at Always Buying Scrap. We provide efficient and professional scrap recycling services so your technicians can focus on their job without worrying about dismantling old units – leaving them more time to install new equipment or perform services as needed.

Our team offers prompt service and pays by ACH, check, or cash for chillers, window units, split units, air handlers, heat pumps, and ducting (insulation included), as well as scrap items such as motors, copper tubing, brass fittings, steel components, compressors, coils, unit cases, and more.

We recycle equipment from hospitals, arenas, stadiums, warehouses, schools, residences, and all types of commercial projects. We are committed to helping our clients reduce overhead costs while minimizing waste and maximizing profits.

At Always Buying Scrap, we understand the importance of prompt and reliable scrap recycling services, which is why we offer our clients a wide range of solutions. Our team will put a professional-looking roll-off container on your job site to meet your needs in a timely manner. This way, you don’t have to worry about theft or wasting time and resources hauling your scrap.


What We Offer:


When you partner with us, we guarantee reliable service every time. We will work directly with your project managers or install teams to ensure that our roll-off containers are onsite at the appropriate times to meet your crane schedule. This means you don’t have to worry about delays or disruptions in service – we will always be there when you need us!

Responsible Disposal Practices

We are proud to offer responsible disposal practices that divert 100 percent of air conditioning units away from landfills. This means that all materials used in the AC unit can be recycled and reused in new products rather than sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years. By choosing our services, you can trust that any air conditioners removed from your property are disposed of responsibly and ethically. You can rest easy knowing you are helping the environment.

Competitive Rates

Our rates are designed to be competitive so that you get the best possible value for your money when it comes to recycling scrap. Our team is here to provide guidance so that you can make informed decisions about which services are right for your needs.

Well-Trained Staff & Modern Technology

The staff at Always Buying Scrap are highly trained professionals with extensive experience in all aspects of HVAC recycling. Our team has access to the most modern technology, which enables us to provide the highest quality advice and services tailored to your individual requirements. With us on your side, you know that everything is being handled professionally, so there is no need for unnecessary stress or hassle!

The Always Buying Scrap Advantage:

As an industry leader in HVAC recycling and air conditioning removal services, Always Buying Scrap offers unbeatable customer service combined with dependable reliability and responsible disposal practices backed by well-trained staff members and modern technology. With our fast turnaround times and competitive prices, you can spend less time worrying about disposing of scrap materials to focus on what matters most – providing top-notch service to customers.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your HVAC recycling needs!


Always Buying Scrap, Durham NCReduce, Reuse, Remanufacture, and Recycle

The Scrap Metal Industry is involved in the circular economy as the 4th R in Reduce, Reuse, Remanufacture, and Recycle.  While it can often take a hundred years or more to reclaim some steel from buildings and infrastructure, recycling yards often see medium and short-service life commodities such as household metal products, domestic appliances, automobiles, and medical equipment. Our recycling efforts contribute at least 20% to the global metal output and contribute as much as 3-4% to the US GDP in recent years.

Supply Chain and Global Emissions

Supply chains strained by COVID-19 and geopolitical conflict including the taxing or prohibiting of the exportation of scrap metal, have created a need for countries to look within for sources of commodities. In addition, metal mining and manufacturing have a large footprint that commands attention. It is estimated that between 2-7% of all global C02 emissions are a result of aluminum and steel manufacturing. Recycling scrap metal reduces energy consumption by as much as 70% compared to making metal from ore.

On average, one ton of recycled steel saves approximately 3086 lbs. of iron ore, 1,630 pounds of coal, and 265 pounds of limestone.”

Scrap Recycling Durham NCThe scrap industry reduces our collective footprint on the environment by reusing resources.  It takes up to forty tons of earth to extract enough iron ore to make a ton of steel.  It takes only a ton of scrap steel to make a ton of steel. To put it in another way, recycling a single steel can save 1 laundry load, an hour of TV, or 24 hours of a 10-watt LED lightbulb.

The Scrap Industry employs many people.  Our industry provides jobs required for scrap collection, separation, and recycling. Jobs include accounting, sales, skilled labor, driving, mechanics, etc.

As of 2022, the US Scrap Metal Recycling Market is estimated at 9.2 billion and reach a valuation of 15.6 billion by the end of 2032.”

Manufacturing scrap recyclingManufacturers may have scrap metal generated from the manufacturing process. This may include pieces of steel, copper, aluminum, brass, cuttings, and shavings, broken tools, tool bits and equipment, nuts, bolts, and washers. Companies often have questions about the best way to get rid of their scrap. That’s where we come in. Our cost-effective and reliable removal solutions make the process easy while turning your scrap into money.


Our Easy Process:


Always Buying Scrap works with many manufacturing companies in the Triangle. We take pride in being easy to work with, and we guide our customers through every step of the process. We genuinely mean it when we say that our service is second to none.

At Always Buying Scrap, we believe in sharing the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us. We service some local non-profits by helping them turn scrap into revenue for their programs.

We Support Families & Animals

In addition to trapping, spaying/neutering, and releasing feral & cast-away cats, we feed a feral cat colony 7 days a week including holidays and Sundays. We support Independent Animal Rescue through contributions and donations of cages, traps, and bowls that come in as scrap.

Always Buying Scrap, Inc. has made an earnest effort to support families affected by the 9-11 tragedy in NYC through

Our involvement in the community extends to university fund-raising events where ABS has donated dozens of vehicles throughout the years.

We really mean it when we say “what goes around comes around.”

Always Buying Scrap provided a sponsorship to Independent Animal Rescue (IAR) in the Great Human Race in Durham. The run is the largest collaborative fundraising event in the Triangle, benefiting hundreds of nonprofits.  In its 22nd year, the Great Human Race is a five kilometre event that this year began and ended at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Runners and walkers followed a route through the gentle hills of the Forest Hills neighborhood, with the last leg on the American Tobacco Trail before returning to the Bulls Stadium. The race is a certified and timed 5K competitive run and walk.  The Great Human Race has raised over $3 million since its inception in 1996. Although registered runners are not permitted to have dogs on the course, the Independent Animal Rescue group had a runner, Deb Eveland, who carried the flag for IAR.


Deb thanked Always Buying Scrap for its donation to her fundraising page and to IAR in the Great Human Race, saying she really appreciated their support.  “We had a great day, and it was good to be out there with other IAR volunteers – and some dogs too – and know that so many people like you are working together to improve the lives of cats and dogs in our community.”  Aside from their sponsorship of IAR, Always Buying Scrap has a rescue kitty that looks after their office (top left).

The group from IAR that attended the race is below.

China was once a destination for low grade scrap where cheap labor was used to extract the valuable fractions. This is increasingly no longer true.

Some time ago, China instituted its “Green Fence” policy. They started to inspect imported scrap loads with greater frequency and intensity, looking for loads that might be garbage disguised as scrap. They were looking for loads of mixed plastics and scrap metal with a lot of tramp material. Rejected loads were sent back to their origin at the shipper’s expense. A lot of US-based brokers who exported to China simply stopped buying.

Fast forward. China – in an effort to clean up it’s environment and be in good standing with the World Trade Organization (WTO) of which it is now a member – has instituted a new policy called “National Sword”. This new policy has raised standards for purity, allowing no more than one percent contamination for many commodities such as plastic, cardboard, and many grades of scrap metal. In a word, China no longer has an insatiable appetite for low grade scrap. While still in the market for higher grades, China is no longer the dominant destination for scrap that it once was.

Some of this material will be diverted to other developing countries and the rest will stay here. The good news is that increased domestic processing capacity will be put on line to take advantage of this new opportunity to extract the valuable parts of “dirty scrap”. In the short term, domestic scrap sellers will be left with weaker markets for their products. Taking a longer view, those that invest in new machinery and technology will have new value-added opportunities, and those that supply them will have better domestic markets.

In terms of producing war materiel, providing jobs, as well as putting added value back into our G.D.P., we should take a hard look at trying to do the same for our domestic manufacturing sector. Nothing illustrates this more than the current panic over the difficulties of exporting raw materials to buy them back for more money as finished goods, while trying to figure out how to create good jobs for Americans. We should have never been in a situation of being overly-dependent on exporting our resources due to a lack of a need for them at home.

The conclusion: We need to clean up our act, and responsibly recycle our own scrap. At the end of the day, China may have done us a favor.

Because scrap metal is easily converted to cash, unfortunately it’s a target for theft. Although stolen material represents about one percent or less of all purchases, it’s still a serious problem.

Through collaboration with the scrap metal industry, North Carolina has enacted state saws to help curtail the problem. These laws help to easily identify thieves of scrap metal and prosecute them.

Here are measures we take to ensure that stolen materials don’t end up at our yard: