Choosing aluminum in production is something that both reduces the energy consumption, through the low weight, and makes the production easier, due to the high melting point which makes the metal easy to cast and process with tools. Aluminum also has a low weight to strength, which gives it another advantage over other metals.
There is no shortage of metal – although it is a finite raw material – nor will it do so for a while.
Why should you recycle aluminum?
The most suitable starting material for the production of aluminum is bauxite, which is a finite raw material that is mined from the bedrock. However, there is still no indication that the raw material will end in the near future. Bauxite is converted to an oxide in a cement kiln-like plant. The pure oxide is then produced from the oxide by an electrolytic method.
All this is extremely energy-intensive. A total of almost 10,000 kWh of fossil fuel and about 19,000 kWh of electric power is needed to produce one ton of aluminum. You can compare this figure with how much electricity a regular villa uses per year, which is around 25,000 kWh. So it takes “only” 6,000 kWh more to run a household for a whole year!
The new production of aluminum increases drastically for each passing year. If we compare production in 1950, which was about 1.5 million tonnes of aluminum, with production in 2012, when we produced around 45.9 million tonnes, production increased about thirty times.
Aluminum is one of the metals that can be melted infinitely many times, it is thus recyclable. A study shows that aluminum remelting requires only about five percent of the energy needed for new bauxite production.
Every year, new aluminum production increases, although there are ways to recycle and production is so energy-intensive. This is largely due to the increase in metal consumption, both in the home and in the industry. If everyone were to instead recycle the aluminum they use, the new production would not have to be that great.
What does aluminum contain and what can you do about it?
• Warm lights: When the candle has burned, there are two parts left on the light; cup and weight holder. The cup contains aluminum and should be recycled with metal packaging. The wick holder, which is in the middle of the bottom, does not contain aluminum, but iron, and should, therefore, be removed from the cup and recycled separately. This is very important when sorting the heating lights. If the cup and weight holder are still attached when you leave them at the recycling station, the iron will get stuck in a magnet. This, in turn, means that everything will be sorted as steel and the aluminum will burn up instead of being reused.
• Household foil: Recycled as metal packaging.
• Cans: Cans without a deposit should also be recycled as metal packaging. This can be, for example, a can containing corn, crushed tomatoes etc.
• Aluminum wobble: On plastic cans, such as those containing crème Fraiche, there is a small piece of foil inside the lid. This foil should not be discarded but recycled as metal packaging.
• Metal scrap: Things that are made of metal but are not packaging are left to the recycling center as metal scrap. Metal scrap can include old frying pans made of aluminum or other metal.
If everyone helps to recycle the aluminum we have used ourselves, we can together save amounts of electricity and fossil fuel. If more were to be recycled, we would also not have to break as much bauxite as we currently do. Bauxite is mined in so-called mining, mainly in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Mining takes place on the land surface and for it to go, the above soil is shoved away. This means that the more bauxite we break, the more land area disappears to become part of the open pit.
Help us recycle and take the step to a better world!