The Benefits of Recycling Aluminum and the Scary Things that Happen When You Don’t
Aluminum is one of the easiest and most valuable materials to recycle, and yet nearly $1 billion worth of the metal ends up in US landfills every year. Consumers have the ability to take their aluminum directly to a recycling facility for a worthwhile cash payout; even still, the recycling rate in America is a sad 67%.
While the benefits of recycling aluminum are far-reaching, when it’s not recycled, the negative impact on the environment is far more troubling than the billion in lost profits.
Here’s what happens when you don’t recycle aluminum.
Mining Raw Materials is Bad for the Environment
Unlike other metals, aluminum is not naturally occurring in the Earth’s crust. Bauxite ore must be mined and then smelted in order to create the material. It’s a time-consuming process that requires an incredible amount of energy and the use of a harmful chemical, caustic soda that leeches into groundwater and causes widespread damage to people and the environment.
The physical mining of the ore disrupts the surrounding land, displaces habitats and causes soil erosion, despite efforts to rebuild the land following the completion of a mining project.
Manufacturing Virgin Aluminum Requires 95% More Energy Than Recycling
From mining, to smelting, to manufacturing, creating new aluminum requires 95% more energy than recycling the same amount of aluminum. To put it another way, recycling a single aluminum can save enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod or power a television for three hours; manufacturing virgin aluminum uses that much energy many, many, many times over. In fact, the amount of energy used to manufacture new aluminum produces 95% more water and air pollution than the recycling process.
The Benefits of Recycling Aluminum
If the environmental impact and energy suck of manufacturing new aluminum isn’t enough to make a case for recycling, the benefits alone should make it worth anyone’s worthwhile to start saving cans.
- Recycling Aluminum is Easy. It’s such a valuable, highly-sought-after material that processing facilities make it incredibly simple to recycle. Curbside pickup is available through your local recycling company, although most processing centers accept it directly from consumers in any amount – bring in a bag full or a truckload, and you’ll get paid cash by the pound.
- Recycling Aluminum is Profitable. While the price per pound varies based on the metals market, aluminum is consistently one of the most valuable materials on the recyclables market.
- Aluminum Can be Recycled Indefinitely. Unlike other materials that lose their structure the more they’re recycled, aluminum can be recycled indefinitely with no loss of function or durability.
- Recycling Aluminum is Fast and Energy-Efficient. Recycling aluminum uses just 5% of the energy of manufacturing virgin metal, and a new can of soda can be recycled and back on the shelf in as little as 6 weeks.
Combined Resources Inc. is Your Source for Aluminum Recycling in Chicago
Whether you’re looking to be more environmentally conscious or turn a profit, CRI can help you develop an aluminum recycling program that works. Contact us at 630-693-0111 for a free audit and see how you can make a positive impact through recycling.
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