When scrap metal arrives at a recycling plant, it is screened for radiation before it's even unloaded. If it's clean, it's transported to a conveyor belt, where it's screened an additional time in case any radiation was missed.
A large piece of machinery called a hammer mill breaks down the scrap metal into pieces the size of your fist and the fragments are shaken down into another conveyor belt.
Then, a magnetic drum above the conveyor belt attracts any ferrous materials (since ferrous metals are magnetic), and the rest remains below. Any non-metal material is sucked up at this point, so that only metal remains.
The ferrous metals are inspected one more time for any problematic materials, and then it's sent to steel mills to be engineered into new steel.
In the end, iron metals have many important applications, and without them, skyscrapers and bridges wouldn’t be nearly as sturdy.
For more information on recycling in San Jose visit this website.