Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth and it is used in a variety of products from gadgets to beverage cans but the best part about this material is that it is very efficiently recyclable. This means that recycling aluminum takes only about 5% or the energy requirements as creating new aluminum from aluminum oxide trough mining, melting, oxidizing and a whole lot of other steps.
Aluminum is most famous for those beverage cans that we see every day consuming our bellowed drinks and cans is one of the biggest aluminum usages but that may sound strange as one can weighs a couple of grams but because there are billions of drinks made every year this is become a huge industry. Aluminum cans use small quantities of aluminum and as the years go by this amount only decreases as in the 1990 from one pound of aluminum you could make 20 cans but now this number has increased to around 30 to 35 cans and with clever technologies it way increase even more in the future. But that does not means that recycling cans is getting more inefficient.
In fact every beverage can that is recycled today saves as much energy as your typical Edison light bulb consumes in about two hours so theoretically recycling 12 aluminum cans saves enough energy to light up your room for the whole day or maybe two days if you use CFL or LED bulbs! This is why aluminum recycling has become a really big industry and it involves everyone starting from the everyday consumer to big corporations and everything in the middle. If aluminum recycling is done properly it can make money for everyone and basically the world would need 20 times less energy that could be diverted in other industrial applications. In the most advanced recycling countries people have the option to recycle their cans and receive money for every can so it makes perfect sense to collect them and get them to a recycle facility and with a can crusher it gets even more convenient!
The basic process that takes place when aluminum is recycled is really simple and it involves only a few steps:
- Used up beverage cans get collected in a special containers or in recycling facilities,
- They get transported to a sorting factory where they are sorted by type,
- Then they are cleaned with various chemicals to get rid of most dirt and some of the paint used on the label,
- Then these clean cans get shredded in smaller pieces and put inside a huge furnace to molt them down.
- This molten aluminum then is inspected and some chemicals are added according to what will be made from it,
- This molten aluminum is then cooled and created in ingots or rods depending on where it will go after this process,
- Then it is sent away and new aluminum products are created.
This whole process takes less than two months and theoretically after two months you can be using the same aluminum in your beverage can that was previously recycled by your hand!
I hope this explains why crushing and recycling cans is so important and will make you think about how many cans you have thrown away an how much potential energy this act has wasted.
Informative pictures about aluminum can recycling: http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/science-aluminium.html