What is aluminum?
Aluminum is a chemical element that can be found on Earth’s surface combined in many different minerals. Aluminum is the most abundant metal in Earth’s crust . Aluminum is very popular material in different construction, engineering and manufacturing industries. Aluminum is often used in construction works. It is used for building parts like tubes, bars, pipes, screws and other parts for houses, railroads, bridges and other constructions we see and use every day. Aluminum metal is also a common material in cars, motorcycles, bicycles and many other means of transportation. You can also find aluminum all around the house, as it is used to make kitchen tools, design decors, small parts like handles and door knobs and also is used in furniture. Another very popular way of using aluminum is for packaging. Different foods and liquids are stored in aluminum trays and cans. Also foil that we use for cooking is made from aluminum.
Recycling in general
Recycling is a process, where used products get processed and new products are made from those processed products. Basically, recycling gives old, used product a new life. Usually we recycle products from such materials as aluminum, glass, plastic and paper. There are many benefits of recycling. Recycling helps to conserve natural resources, because recycled materials can be used again to make similar product and there is no need to seek and use so much natural resources from Earth. Recycling helps to save the environment. Usually, making product from raw materials takes a lot more energy than making it from recycled materials. Also, recycling helps to reduce pollution from landfills, as less toxic materials go to these landfills, less of those materials get polluted into environment and atmosphere. Recycling also helps to save up money. Recycling not only makes production of new products cheaper, but because it’s such a huge industry, it generates large revenue for recycling companies and income from taxes to countries and creates new job places for lots of people each year.
Why I need to recycle aluminum cans?
Besides previously mentioned benefits of recycling there are few more benefits of recycling aluminum products:
- Aluminum does not wear out and can be recycled practically forever;
- Recycling an aluminum can is cheaper than producing a new can from raw materials;
- Aluminum is the most recycled material;
- Producing cans from recycled aluminum takes 95 less energy than producing them from bauxite ore;
- Recycled aluminum cans afterwards are being used to produce many other aluminum products that are used in different industries like transportation, aviation, construction, household and others;
- Aluminum recycling is good for environment. Aluminum recycling prevents approx. 100 million tons of carbon dioxide from being released into atmosphere.
Aluminum recycling process
- Cans get thrown into recycle bin that is taken to recycling plant;
- Aluminum gets sorted and cleaned for shredding process. In shredding process all cans and other aluminum products get chopped into small pieces, so it is more easier to remove other materials like painting from the cans and they melt more faster;
- After aluminum have been shredded into small pieces, it goes through de-coating or de-lacquering process, where it gets heated to approx. 500 degrees C and any lacquer, paint or other materials gets removed from aluminum;
- After de-coating process aluminum shreds get melted in very high temperatures (over couple 1000 degrees C) into molten metal. Different chemicals get added to molten aluminum in this stage, to make the necessary aluminum composition.
- Molten aluminum is poured into molds, where it gets formed into large and heavy ingot blocks. Each of these ingots contains approx. 1.5 million aluminum cans.
- These large aluminum ingots are passed through rolling mills, where they are flattened and rolled into very thin sheets, form which different aluminum products including cans are manufactured.
The cycle of aluminum recycling can take from one to two months. So after you have thrown an empty aluminum soda can into recycling trash, it is possible that after two months you will be drinking soda from a new can that may contain recycled aluminum from that can you thrown into recycling trash two months ago.
These are the basics of aluminum recycling process. Aluminum or any other kind of recycling is important for the environment, helps to reduce pollution, helps to conserve natural resources and gives job to millions of people around the world. Aluminum recycling makes production of aluminum products a lot efficient, faster and cheaper process.