Aluminum is one of the most recycled and easily recyclable materials. As a result, nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is being used today. Aluminum can be recycled over and over again.
Aluminum is the most abundant metal element in the earth’s crust. It can also be found in durable and nondurable goods like appliances and furniture.
In 2018, the Aluminum Association calculated that nearly 34.9% of aluminum containers and packaging were recycled. Within this percentage, the most recycled category of aluminum was beer and soda cans, at 50.4% or 0.67 million tons. Aluminum cans are the most sustainably packaged beverage, making them far more valuable than glass or plastic. Aluminum waste single-handedly provides financial viability to municipal recycling programs which subsidize the recycling of other less valuable materials.
While this statistic can look encouraging, it is important to highlight that in the same year, approximately 2.7 million tons of aluminum ended up in landfills.
Increasing aluminum recycling translates to fewer fossil fuels burned and lower carbon impact.
Although recycling aluminum is not inherently dangerous, aluminum waste can be. The basic recycling procedure for aluminum consists of three steps:
While this process doesn’t produce any toxins, melting aluminum does. The melting process releases dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, and particulate matter into the air. These pollutants can be deadly in high quantities. Fortunately, the average person is not exposed to these chemicals and those who work in recycling facilities take the necessary safety precautions to protect themselves from aluminum waste.
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