Aluminum Recycling: Is It Helpful Or Harmful?

Posted on: 8 December 2015

You've thought about getting into aluminum recycling for quite some time, but haven't been able to decide if it's right for you. You've heard that there isn't much point in recycling or that it's wasteful. However, those claims are highly exaggerated. The benefits of aluminum recycling far outweigh any negatives. And here is why.

Criticisms Of Recycling

The concept that "recycling is harmful to the environment" is one that has been gaining some traction. Critics of recycling argue that recycling may cause more carbon emissions due to the requirements of the recycling process. For example, reported that recycling often requires two different trucks or trips by waste disposal trucks, which increases the carbon emissions. And that's just one step of the process.

That said, aluminum recycling is more rarely criticized because of the way it helps decrease mining operations and the harmful aluminum creation process. However, some critics still believe that it's more trouble than its worth, and have even criticized the aluminum recycling vector of "bad planning," a claim heartily denied by the industry.

Aluminum Recycling Reduces CO2 Emissions

The claims of the wastefulness of aluminum recycling can be refuted by a few simple statistics. For example, studies have found that recycling one ton of aluminum actually eliminates at least nine tons of CO2 emissions.

This result was found in the United Kingdom, which has heavily invested in aluminum recycling: up to 90% of all their cans are recycled. Consider this point: studies have shown that if you were to recycle one can eight times, you would save enough energy to create 160 more cans. A big part of that energy savings lies in the wastefulness of aluminum extraction.

Recycling Reduces Extraction

One of the biggest refutations of the harmful nature of aluminum recycling lies in the way it decreases the necessity of extraction. Aluminum extraction is a massive process that requires giant open-pit mines that remove millions of tons of soil looking for bauxite, the mineral from which aluminum originates. This extraction requires thousands of man hours and the use of giant, fuel inefficient vehicles that generate large amounts of greenhouse gas.

And once the bauxite has been extracted, it needs to be smelted in a bath of harmful sodium hydroxide in order to create aluminum. This process is very inefficient: it requires four tons of bauxite to create one ton of aluminum. And that remainder just pollutes the environment.

Compare that production with the previously discussed eight times recycled can, to see how much energy, time, and waste is saved by recycling.

This information should help show you how important aluminum recycling is to the environment. So make sure to collect all your cans and head out to the recycling center as soon as possible.

To learn more, contact a company like Main Street Fibers