We produce aluminium out of recycled metal and we purchase primary metal to transform into semi-finished products. These are converted into finished products that can be recycled at the end of their useful life. Though process scrap is always recycled and retained in the manufacturing loop, only end-of-life recycling reduces the need for primary metal and lowers the environmental impact of a product. We believe the ONLY way to improve the CO 2 footprint of aluminium products through recycling is to increase end-of-life recycling through programs with industry and relevant organizations.
Moreover, there is only a limited amount of recycled aluminium available globally, so increasing recycled material in one product line can remove it from others and offers no actual benefit for the environment. Read more with our brochure "The Life Cycle of Aluminium". We believe we can further improve recycling through partnerships with relevant stakeholders including customers, associations, and research centers. By collaborating to improve scrap collection and sorting, players from across the industry can foster best practices for maximum results.
We are a founding member of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative ASI that works to establish and promote an industry standard for the responsible production and use of aluminium across the value chain. In particular, in the Material Stewardship Principle, it focuses on the collection and recycling at the end of their life cycle. In partnership with Metal Packaging Europe, we advocate for metals to be classified as permanent materials, and for the use of relevant recycling metrics. We work with local organizations such as France Aluminium Recyclage, the UK-based Alupro, and Arpal in Spain to develop and stimulate collection infrastructure in each market.
Employees work long hours for low salaries, but they are grateful to have jobs in a country where unemployment is high. He is 15 years old and earns a living by recycling aluminum scrap. Every day, he wakes up just before 7 a.
He has an hour for lunch and then continues working until 8 p. His job is to melt the aluminum scrap in a furnace all day long. At the end of the day, Muktar sleeps in a bed that is right next to the furnace. Hamed is one of thousands of Indians who live in Dharavi, one of the largest slum towns in South Asia, and make money by recycling and reusing nearly every aluminum material they can find. Not only do these people support themselves, but they also created a multimillion-dollar industry that is changing the regional economy and is allowing people to earn money.
In Dharavi, aluminum recycling involves three important steps.
Using and Recycling Aluminum | HowStuffWorks
First, aluminum products that have been used and thrown away, especially old soda and beer cans, are collected. Second, the cans are soaked in acid, so the designs and brand names are removed.
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Third, the cans are crushed and melted in a furnace. Hamed works in a plant that receives crushed cans and then melts them in a coal-powered furnace. Once the cans have completely melted, the molten mixture is poured into molds, where it cools into solid aluminum bars called ingots. These bars are then transferred to another factory in Dharavi. There, they are melted again, and a special machine turns the liquid metal into blocks that are later used to make new aluminum items.
At the bottom of the hole is a vent, which is joined to the ground by a pipe.
The purpose of the vent and the pipe is to enable oxygen to reach the lowest part of the furnace. The furnace is filled with coal which is ignited and stoked to produce temperatures exceeding the o C melting point of aluminum. Hamed places a crucible filled with the crushed scrap aluminum on the top of the furnace. The crucible is made of silicon carbide, which remains solid up to 2, o C.
Aluminum recycling is profitable because extracting this metal from aluminum ore is expensive, it pollutes the environment, and it consumes a significant amount of energy. Aluminum is extracted from an ore known as bauxite, which consists of aluminum oxide Al 2 O 3 and other compounds that contain aluminum, silicon, titanium, and iron.
Aluminum oxide is separated from the other elements using the Bayer process, which consists of three stages. First, bauxite is dissolved in a solution of sodium hydroxide at high pressure and temperature. The resulting mixture contains a solution of sodium aluminate [NaAl OH 4 ] and undissolved bauxite residues containing iron, silicon, and titanium. Sodium aluminate forms through the chemical reaction of aluminum oxide with sodium hydroxide and water, as follows:.
In the second stage, the sodium aluminate solution is pumped into a huge tank and cooled, and, as it cools, the sodium aluminate decomposes to form aluminum hydroxide [Al OH 3 ] and sodium hydroxide:. The aluminum hydroxide forms a precipitate that sinks to the bottom of the tank, where it is removed. In the third stage, the aluminum hydroxide is heated to o C, which forms aluminum oxide according to the following reaction:. The aluminum is then produced from the aluminum oxide through a technique called aluminum smelting.
It is based on a process known as electrolysis, in which an electrical current is used to produce the constituent elements from a chemical compound. In this case, aluminum oxide is separated into aluminum and oxygen Fig. Electrolysis can be performed only on a liquid. Aluminum oxide dissolves into two ions, Al 2 OF 6 2— and F — , by reacting with some of the AlF 6 3— ions from molten cryolite, as follows:. Aluminum Al is produced at the negative electrode, called the cathode, according to the following reduction reaction gain of electrons :.
At the positive electrode, called the anode, the Al 2 OF 6 2— ions react with the anode which is made of carbon to form carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, for example by the following oxidation reaction loss of electrons :. Combining the aluminum oxide dissolution reaction and the oxidation and reduction reactions gives the overall net reaction:. The next step consists of pouring molten aluminum into molds and letting the aluminum solidify into shape.
These blocks of solid aluminum, or ingots, are forced through several rollers to become sheets that are less than 1-inch thick. The aluminum sheets are cut to make cans, which are sent to soft drink companies that fill and seal them. The canned soft drinks are sold to consumers who drink them. In the Western world, the cans are usually collected and sent to a recycling center, where they are cleaned, sorted, and crushed. Then, they go to an aluminum manufacturing plant, where they are shredded, remelted and solidified again. In India, the cans are collected from garbage dumps and sent to small private companies, where people such as Hamed clean them using acid at room temperature and normal pressure.
Then, they melt the aluminum cans in a furnace at o C and pour the molten aluminum into a mold, which later solidify into shape. Recycling aluminum is much cheaper than extracting it. Aluminum extraction requires temperatures of 1, o C and a lot of energy. Additional material—such as cryolite and sodium hydroxide—need to be used, and a significant amount of electricity is needed.
The key benefit of recycling is that it reduces the amount of waste that needs to be buried or burned.
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In the case of aluminum, there is also another advantage. If old soda cans were simply buried, new cans would have to be made from new aluminum that would have to come from aluminum ore. So, recycling aluminum has an economic advantage as well as an environmental one. Not all materials are economically advantageous to recycle.