Recycling of aluminium and other metals

One advantage of aluminium and other metals is the long service life in comparison with other, non-metallic materials. This also applies to the products made from aluminium. Cars, airplanes and machines are some examples worth mentioning. These products remain in use for decades. However, a negative trend has been observed for a number of years.

Aluminium car industry

New products such as televisions are becoming increasingly complex and short-lived. Now, in just a few years the device becomes defective or is replaced with newer technology. The same applies to the popular smartphones, which are only used for an especially short period. In general, everything needs to become stronger and lighter. Customer expectations on the material are rising, which also increases the quantity of mixed materials.

However, the various metal alloys make it more difficult to separate the materials again. In the worst case, this results in a situation in which the aluminium can no longer be recycled. This scrap can then only be disposed of or incinerated.

Why is aluminium recycled?

Aluminium is one of the most popular metallic materials in the world, and demand for it is always on the rise. No other metal offers more potential uses. With additives in aluminium, it is possible to achieve levels of strength that are slightly inferior to those of steel. Aluminium is used in places where weight reduction is a top priority. We at materials4me can also confirm that the demand for aluminium sections has increased.

However, the primary production requires extremely large amounts of energy. Primary production is the process by which new aluminium is obtained from the bauxite ore.

Aluminium Grades

Recycling aluminium, on the other hand, requires only 5% of the energy. In other words, the same amount of energy is required to produce a beverage can from fresh aluminium as to produce 20 cans from recycled aluminium.

The lower energy consumption saves a significant amount of energy. When less energy is required, emissions are avoided and the environment is less polluted. Recycling is therefore sustainable, efficient and ecologically sensible.

How is aluminium recycled?

Metals can be reused effectively. However, the recycling can become quite complicated due to mixed materials. Here are a few examples: When you throw an aluminium can into the trash along with rusted nails. These can then be easily separated by a magnet in the sorting plant.

But what happens when you dispose of different aluminium alloys together? Two approaches are taken here. The aluminium can be sorted into types at great effort. With type-specific recycling, there is no loss in the quality of the metal. Alternatively, the various materials can be recycled together. This is called downcycling. Downcycling means that different materials are melted together. This degrades the material quality.

In both cases, the term secondary raw materials applies. This is what we call raw materials obtained from the processing of waste and scrap.

The procedure is similar with clothing: Pure yarn is generally easier to process than mixed yarn. The clothing article is then more uniform and of higher quality. For a cleaning cloth, this may not be of great importance. Thus the requirements and intended use are always decisive. This determines the amount of secondary raw materials that can be used.
If the material quality is poor, only incineration remains as a way to utilize the released energy. In Sweden, an enormous amount of energy is produced by waste incineration.

Help with aluminium recycling and earn money

Waste separation is a first step. Small quantities of aluminium can be disposed of in the recycling bin. The recycling plant can separate various materials. Large appliances, such as washing machines or televisions, are best brought to the recycling centre. Ideally, you should use your devices as long as possible. In the event of a defect, a repair is more economical than throwing the device away or replacing it.

For aluminium without adhering substances, you can get more than 50 cents per kilogram from a metal dealer. Try saving up the recyclable scrap that accumulates in your household over the course of a year. It might be enough to pay for a modest family dinner, and thus you will also have helped the environment.

Summary – What have we learned about metal recycling?

  • Recycling aluminium consumes much less energy.
  • Downcycling refers to the use of materials with reduced quality.
  • You can help with recycling by separating different materials.
  • As of a certain quantity, you can exchange metal for cash at a scrap yard.

More information on aluminium

Would you like to purchase aluminium sections from thyssenkrupp at materials4me? You can order our products directly without minimum order quantities, and delivery is free for purchases over £ 100.