The Impact of Metal Recycling on Environmental Sustainability

Aluminum cans for recycling
30 May 2024
The Impact of Metal Recycling on Environmental Sustainability

Metal recycling is the process of collecting and processing used metals, including aluminum, steel, copper, and iron, so they can be used again. Recycling metal is an important part of keeping our planet healthy. By recycling the metal we use, we can save natural resources, save energy, reduce pollution, and support a healthier environment for everyone.

Recycling metal is a great way to support sustainable manufacturing. Recycled metals can be used to make new products, meaning that we don't have to mine as much metal from the ground. This helps to protect the environment. Proper metal recycling can reduce the amount of waste and potential air and water pollution that is linked to the mining and refining of new metals.

Recycling metal also reduces the amount of energy that we use to get metal into a form we can use. It takes much less energy to recycle metal objects than to make new ones from raw materials. For example, recycling aluminum saves up to 95% of the energy required to make new aluminum. This saving of energy translates into less greenhouse gasses being released into our atmosphere, which helps to reduce climate change. Keeping metal out of our landfills is also important. It's better to turn metal into new metal products than to bury it underground.

Recycling also creates jobs within our communities and helps to support the economy by generating business opportunities in the recycling and manufacturing industries. There are so many different benefits of recycling metal!

Fun Facts About Metal Recycling

  • Copper can be recycled again and again without losing its quality.
  • There are more than 100 different types of recyclable metals.
  • When one aluminum can is recycled into a new can, that saves enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for up to four hours.
  • Using scrap copper can reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 65%.
  • Zinc is the fourth most common industrial metal and is often blended with other metals, including lead and copper. A lot of the zinc we use is still mined from the ground, but the amount that comes from recycled zinc is growing everyday.
  • Steel is 100% recyclable! It is also the most commonly recycled metal in the world. Recycling one ton of steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.
  • The steel industry recycles more than 18 million tons of steel from old appliances each year.
  • Nearly every new car body is made with roughly 25% recycled steel.
  • Lead is one of the most recycled metals in the world. It is recycled more often than aluminum, copper, and zinc and its quality does not deteriorate no matter how many times it is recycled.
  • Tin is a metal widely used to make things, but only 8% of all tin is recycled.
  • Scrap metal falls into one of two categories: ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous metals have iron in them, while non-ferrous metals don't.
  • Brass is a popular material used to make musical instruments. Using recycled brass scrap is a great way to bring manufacturing costs down.
  • Bronze and brass are copper alloys, meaning that they're mixtures of copper and another metal.
  • Nickel is a non-ferrous metal that is commonly found in batteries and can be recycled into nickel-containing stainless steel, which is then used to make appliances.
  • Cast iron is very durable and long-lasting, and it's a popular material in kitchens. It also has a lower impact on the environment compared to aluminum or plastic.

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