Recycling Stainless Steel

The main first-use industry for nickel is stainless steel. Nickel-containing stainless steels (there are other kinds) commonly contain between 8 and 14% nickel, and account for approximately 65 % of primary nickel use. 

The modern refining processes used to produce stainless steel allow a wide range of raw materials to be used economically, of which scrap from stainless steel products is only one.

Sophisticated "blending" processes are used by specialist suppliers in order to provide quality-assured feed to stainless steel mills. These blending processes can utilise nickel-containing products from a very wide range of fabricating or end-of-life sources - including low-nickel steels; high nickel alloys; mixed turnings; end-of-life engineering assemblies; reject products from primary nickel producers; and re-melted ingot from processing nickel-containing slags, dusts, batteries, and spent plating fluids.

This "omnivorous" character of the stainless steel industry means the stainless steel industry puts a higher value on many of these products than does the industry which originally generates the products. Hence, many products become feed for the stainless steel loop rather than feed for the industry sector that originally produced the products.