How to RECYCLE ALUMINUM - Process, ideas and importance

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Aluminum is one of the light metals, with a low density and a high resistance to corrosion. It replaces other materials, such as steel, for the manufacture of some structures in order to reduce weight and is a material used in various industrial sectors (packaging, aeronautics, automotive, construction or machinery). The fact that it is such a light material and quite resistant to corrosion has contributed to its being in high demand, so new sources of bauxite are being sought, a mineral from which aluminum is obtained, and the importance of recycling aluminum waste is also considered. , as an alternative to the extraction of new raw materials.

This Green Ecologist article will show how to recycle aluminum step by step, in addition to how we should make the separation from our homes to deposit it in the correct container.

The aluminum recycling process

Aluminum can be recovered thanks to the recycling plans that are carried out after the consumption of this product. How to recycle aluminum? This is the process that is followed for it:

  1. The aluminum harvesting from the recycling bins to take it to the recycling plant.
  2. In the recycling plant the aluminum is separated going through different stages of classification: first those large materials that are not made of aluminum (plasticized paper and plastic) are separated, then a magnet separates other materials, such as steel or impurities that are not aluminum, later it is passed through a cylinder It is rotating to continue eliminating other types of materials and finally it is transported by an electromagnetic belt for those objects that are not aluminum and escaped from the previous phase. The aim is to eliminate those heavy metals that would make it difficult to recycle aluminum.
  3. Aluminum is crushed to create blocks, all of the same size and weight.
  4. The aluminum blocks that have been formed are cut and passed through a separator to find any trace of other metal and separate it.
  5. Then it is passed to an oven to be melted at 780 ° C, going from its solid form to its liquid form.
  6. Liquid aluminum is processed into new aluminum blocks or sheets, which will be transformed into a new use.

You may wonder how aluminum cans are recycled, since it is one of the most common aluminum objects in homes and that we can manage to recycle it. The cans follow the same process explained, but in the last phase, the aluminum block that is formed is heated and pressed until a sheet with a thickness of 2 mm is obtained, which will be rolled up and that aluminum roll is sent to the factories of cans. Depending on the new use that you want to give the aluminum, the last step will be done in one way or another.

Where to recycle aluminum

In which container does the aluminum go? It all depends on the waste management of each country, since the container can change shape and color. For example, in Spain, aluminum is deposited in the yellow container, intended for plastic containers and other light containers, such as cans, aluminum trays, metal lids and stoppers, aerosols or metal cans. The cartons are also stored in this container because they are largely made up of aluminum and plastic (polyethylene). Therefore, in Spain, the aluminum is deposited in the yellow container.

You can learn more about this topic with this other article on Where to recycle aluminum cans.

Ideas to recycle aluminum at home

Know how we can recycle aluminum at home? To really recycle it, we would only have to previously separate at home all those aluminum waste or aluminum components that may be forming part of a container. For example, the bricks have an aluminum foil or in some of the glass bottles we find metal caps, so it is important to extract these components and then recycle them. Once the separation is done, the aluminum waste is taken to the corresponding container depending on the country or region in which we are. Here you can learn more about How to recycle garbage at home.

Of course, we can also choose reuse aluminum to give a new use to the waste we already have. Some ideas are as follows:

  • Make our own lampshade for a lamp or a curtain with the rings of the cans.
  • With a large can of preserves we can make a nice jewelry box to store accessories. We would only have to clean the can well, paint it or line it with some type of paper or fabric (also lining the edge) and divide it inside (with thick cardboard or rigid plastic strips) to have several compartments.
  • Using the cans as bird feeders is another good option to reuse this aluminum.
  • Make some small flowerpots to decorate your home using some cans. Here we explain several ideas on How to make recycled pots with this and other materials.

If you like to reuse things to recycle them at home giving them more uses, here are several Upcycling Ideas.

What is the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling metals

We mentioned before that aluminum is obtained from a mineral called bauxite and this is easily found in nature. But nevertheless, its extraction is really expensive at the energy level, That's why it's so important reduce its consumption, reuse or recycle it, since it would be saving approximately 95% of the energy cost that is needed for its extraction. In addition, we are facing a material that maintains its properties when it is recycled and is in high demand because it is so malleable and resistant.

We advise you that if you want to discover more about this topic, enter this link to our article on the Importance of metal recycling. In addition, here we leave you a video about the importance of recycling all kinds of materials.

If you want to read more articles similar to How to recycle aluminum, we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category.

  • Millán, F., Sánchez, D., Olaya, J., 2015. Aluminum recycling: development opportunities in Bogotá (Colombia). Aluminum recycling: development opportunities in Bogota (Colombia).
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