Recycling spotlight: Aluminum

We’re all up to date on recycling, and know why we should do it, what the benefits are and where we can recycle certain things. Cardboard and plastics are now being recycled more than ever before, and society is getting completely clued-up about being green through recycling. One of the more recent trends which is hitting savvy recyclers is to re-use aluminum.

What is it?

Aluminum is created from a material called bauxite, which is mostly found in South America, Africa and Australia. While processes for manufacturing it are improve, meaning it takes less energy to make than it used to (15,00 kw to produce a ton), it is still a high-energy process which impacts the environment. In addition, transportation costs and energy use make aluminum a hefty perpetrator of crimes against energy!

Because of the energy taken to produce aluminum, it is actually more cost-effective and green to recycle than it is to make from new.

It’s the only commonly-used packaging which has a higher value than the cost taken to recycle. Recycling a soda can costs only five percent of the energy which producing it in the first place would take. It’s a resilient product which can be recycled over and over again without any impact on the product or reduction in quality.

The potential to make a real difference to the environment

At the moment, about 57% of the aluminum in circulation has already been recycled, but there is still a huge scope for reusing drinks cans and foil. Statistics from the International Aluminum Institute show that there is potential to save a much greater amount of energy through recycling the remaining cans and foil which are being used. It is tragic when aluminum winds up as landfill, as this precious material has great potential to be used again and again.

How can you recycle aluminum?

Any soda can or tin foil can be recycled as long as it is made from aluminum. You can check foil by crunching it up. If it remains crumpled, it’s aluminum and can be recycled. Cans have an aluminum label on to state that is what they are made from.

There are reprocessing plants globally which melt down and re-form aluminum easily. Around 50 to 60 cans make up one kilogram which is the minimum most aluminum dealers will accept. All you need to do to preserve this great material is check online for local aluminum recycling plants in your area, and stash any cans or foil which you use, ready to drop off to the plant.

Another way you can support recycling is by purchasing recycled aluminum foil, which costs about the same as buying new, but makes you feel smug knowing you are being a savvy green shopper! Keep an eye out for the product in supermarkets – most major retailers stock recycled foil alongside its brand new, high-energy version.

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