Aluminium is a valuable commodity and can be a lucrative source of revenue for those companies and organisations that choose to collect it. It is lightweight and versatile and around 43 million tonnes of it are produced world wide each year of which 30% is made from secondary production or recycled Aluminium. It easy an easy metal to recycle and can be recycled indefinitely without any loss of quality to the Aluminium itself. It therefore makes a lot of sense both economically and environmentally to recycle as much Aluminium as possible. Five Good Reasons for recycling Aluminium: • Recycling Aluminium uses only 5% of the energy it takes to produce new Aluminium • Using recycled Aluminium reduces CO2 emissions and air pollution • It reduces the need to mine the raw materials required to make the metal such as Bauxite • It is a relatively simple process that can be repeated over and over and that doesn’t compromise the quality of the Aluminium • It reduces the amount of Aluminium ending up in landfill Basically, recycling Aluminium is quick and effective and if we take a common household item like drinks cans for example, when recycled they can be back on supermarket shelves within six weeks of collection. Around 75% of all drinks cans sold in the UK are made of Aluminium and despite the fact that they are 100% recyclable, around 3 billion drinks cans still ended up in landfill in 2001 according to Waste Online.
This is simply a complete waste of a valuable resource and although recycling rates are on the increase, there is still a lot of Aluminium not being recycled so why is this? The main barrier to recycling Aluminium is simply in the collection of it. Collecting aluminium packaging for example can be problematic as it is very light and there’s lots of it and as it is made from different alloys, it must be separated from Aluminium drinks cans. Getting into the habit of collecting, sorting and recycling your Aluminium packaging is one thing that you as an individual can do to help protect the planets resources, save energy and can even earn you cash. Recycling Aluminium Cans The Aluminium used to make cans is different from Aluminium foil packaging so must often be collected separately.
Find out what your local recycling depot requires, for example, do they collect cans and packaging together or must they be sorted first? One simple way of testing whether your can is made of Aluminium or Steel is to place a magnet next to it, if it sticks, it is not Aluminium. There are also numerous ‘cash for cans’ schemes operating throughout the country so find out where your nearest one is and deposit your cans there or donate them to charity so that they can raise much needed funds. As much as 45p per kilo can be paid out for sorted cans, this equates to approximately 60 cans. Recycling Aluminium Packaging The types of Aluminium packaging you can collect that is suitable for recycling includes: • Milk bottle tops • Yoghurt lids • Baking and Freezing Trays • Kitchen Foil • Cigarette Foil • Chocolate Wrappers To check whether a wrapping is made from Aluminium or not just crush it up in your hand, if it bounces back (like crisps packets) then it is not able to be recycled. Some centres will accept Aluminium foil for cash and will often pay up to 30p per kilo for clean foil.
Recycling Aluminium Aerosol Cans Local authorities and other recycling depots will sometimes accept aluminium aerosol cans if they are completely empty, however, it is best to check first so that you can meet their requirements. More information For more information on where to recycle your Aluminium cans and packaging or where the nearest cash for cans centre is, contact Alupro at www.alupro.org.uk.
The role of Alupro (The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation) is to educate the public and make sure that packaging waste recycling targets are met and they work with local authorities and other partners to do this, they also work with the Government on policy issues. If in the USA, you can find out more links to sites dealing with recycling Aluminium by contacting the Aluminium Association at www.aluminium.org.
Dave McEvoy writes for Value Skips UK , a waste management company offering skip hire services, information and waste disposal advice.
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