Side effects of scrap metal – Aluminum
Aluminum is one of the metals that is found abundantly in nature. It is the most used refined metal in countries across the world and is used widely in packaging, cooking, building materials and in car manufacturing units. Raw aluminum leaves a lot of scrap metal as residue in the process. For the amount of aluminum available, and the fact that it can be recycled fast, it can be used to reduce waste to a significant amount and also save energy. Production of new aluminum causes irrevocable environmental damage. Despite this knowledge, several millions of pounds of aluminum are blindly discarded every year.
Here are some detrimental effects of wasted aluminum for our environment.
Decomposition of scrap metal
When aluminum is not sent to the scrap metal yards, it is disposed in landfills and oceans. Aluminum takes nearly 400 years to decompose in the natural process. Discarded aluminum forms 60% of the landfills. Some landfills incinerate aluminum and this causes the need for more mining and the process of incinerations releases harmful toxins into the environment. A research shows that the amount of aluminum that is discarded as waste is enough to rebuild a commercial air fleet every 3 months.
Excessive usage of energy
It takes 95% more energy to manufacture new aluminum as compared to 5% usage of energy to recycle the scrap metal. In order to manufacture aluminum, industries have to mine bauxite and refine the metal. Also, aluminum does not undergo any measurable deterioration while it is being recycled. This means that aluminum can be recycled any number of times without losing its quality. According to the environmental councils, the energy required to make a single can is equivalent to 3 gallons of gasoline.
Depletion of natural resources
Bauxite mining leads to wastage of sand, fertile mud, destruction of rocks and irregularities in the earth’s surface. There is a tremendous amount of environmental destruction involved. The negative impact of bauxite mining can be minimized by using the existing aluminum scrap metal resources. Aluminum is used in the leanest to the most solid form. When there is no use for the product made out of aluminum, it ends up in a trash can. For example, the aerated drink industry uses 500,000 pounds of fresh aluminum to produce cans every year. Out of the thousands of cans produced every year, only a fraction of those reach the metal recycling units. From this fact, one can easily tell that the remaining aluminum is just forming landfills and which will remain for a few hundreds of years.
Even though aluminum is one of the most sought after metal in the recycling industry, people do not make the effort to recognize its value by recycling. Environment protection agencies are urging industries to make a conscious effort to recycle the aluminum waste and reduce the need for mining. Mankind cannot do without aluminum and there will always be a need for it because it is extensively used in production of various products. Given its importance, recycling scrap metal – aluminum – has become a necessity.