Recycling Metals / Why Bother?
The usefulness of metals like steel, copper, and aluminum was discovered thousands of years ago. Their properties and characteristics like strength, durability, malleability, and conductivity are of primary importance in a wide range of products today.
From fasteners, jewelry (see the pendant in the picture to the left made from recycled metal and plastic), cutting tools, structural elements of our biggest buildings and infrastructure to transportation and electronics metals are essential in the manufacture of these items.
-The image to the left represents jewelry created with recycled metal. Photo is by Surf Jewels.-
However, metals are precious natural resources of the Earth.
Metal deposits are non-renewable resources that will run out if exploited at the present rate.
The importance of recyclingthe metal that is part of the municipal waste stream cannot be emphasized enough.
Metals can be recycled without losing any of their important properties. Inefficient recovery of metals from industrial and consumer waste increases the pressure on the non-renewable resources of the Earth from which they are extracted.
The dumping of metal also has a large impact on the environment because of the dispersal of metallic particles in the ecosystem. Recycling and recovering metals from the waste stream is vital in the protection of valuable resources and of the environment.
Recycling Metals / What kind of metal can be recycled?
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Recycling metals especially effective because they can be recycled almost indefinitely, thereby making extremely friendly to the environment. Metals are different from polymer plastics in that their properties can be restored fully whatever physical or chemical form they are in, although sometimes the process is costly and difficult.
The success of recovered metal markets is dependent upon the cost of retrieving and processing. These are the metals most commonly recycled and are highly valued.
Aluminum -the production of aluminum from the raw ore needs large quantities of energy. The process to free aluminum from alumina, which is the raw ore, is quite complex. Recycling aluminum uses only 5 percent of the energy and produces only 5 percent of CO2 emissions when compared to with production of virgin metal.
This also reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill. A recycled aluminum can save enough energy to run a television set for three hours. Recycling 1kg of aluminum saves up to 6kg of bauxite, 4kg of chemical products and 14 kWh of electricity.
Steel -is also derived from an ore that has to be mined from non-renewable resources of the Earth. Iron ore is common and is quite plentiful but in that form it is usually combined with oxygen or other elements like sulphur or carbon. Large amounts of energy are again needed to produce the pig iron from the ore.
Over 11 million tons of iron and steel scrap are produced each year of this amount 70 percent is recovered. Of the remaining quantity 2/3 is land filled. Each ton of steel recycled can save 1.5 tons of iron ore, .5 tons of coal, 40 % of the water used in production, 75 % of the energy needed to make steel from the raw material, 1.28 tons of solid waste, reduction in air emission 86 %, and reduction of water pollution by 76 %.
Recycling Metals / Other Metals to Look Out For
Copper, nickel, brass, lead, gold, silver, etc. can all be recycled. Since these metals are all quite valuable only a smaller quantity is in circulation. The recovery of these metals is sometimes ignored especially when they are used in households and these items are disposed of by the householders.
Find a place to recycle metal near you…
For more information on metal recycling near you just input the phrase, metal recycling ‘your area’ in your search engine search bar. Or go to earth911.com.
For more information on the importance of recycling follow these links: