There are a lot of great reasons to use aluminum. Not only is it extremely strong despite its light weight, but it also offers a great deal of corrosion resistance and formability. That’s not to mention its aesthetic appearance and uniform quality. One fact about aluminum that doesn’t get enough attention is that it is 100% recyclable.
Sustainability is a crucial issue for pretty much every industry in this modern age. Not only are businesses expected to take the environment into consideration when making their products, but any amount of increased efficiency in your operations can make a difference to your bottom line. Anytime you can use a recyclable material in your production process it has the opportunity of benefiting your business in multiple ways.
So what does it mean when we say that aluminum is 100% recyclable and how can you leverage this feature to improve your business? Let us explain.
Facts About Recycling Aluminum
It’s likely that most of you are familiar with aluminum recycling. It is one of the most recyclable materials available today. But it’s also probable that the first thought that comes to mind when you think about aluminum recycling is beverage cans. The truth is that the story goes much deeper.
Did you know that just about 75% of all the aluminum that has ever been produced in the United States is still in use today? That’s an amazing statistic, especially when you realize that recycling an aluminum can consumes only 5% of the energy that it would require to make a new one. This kind of ratio applies to pretty much any application you can think of that involves aluminum. That’s why building aluminum into your production process in order to take advantage of its recyclability makes a lot of sense. https://www.marck.net/facts-about-recycling-aluminum/)
Some other facts include that for every ton of aluminum that gets recycled, it amounts to saving 14,000 kWh of electricity or 1,663 gallons of oil. It also means 10 fewer cubic yards of landfill space are used. That’s significant because when aluminum does end up in a landfill, it takes up to five hundred years to fully degrade. And because there is no limit to the number of times an aluminum can (or other product) can be recycled, there’s every incentive to make aluminum a part of your production process. (https://utahrecycles.org/get-the-facts/the-facts-aluminum/)
What is the aluminum recycling process?
Before you can implement a recycling program in your application, it’s necessary to have a thorough understanding of the recycling process. Naturally, this starts with collection. While this might be a relatively simple problem for something like aluminum cans, for items such as industrial parts, complicated electronics, or architectural features, it can actually be quite difficult to identify and isolate the aluminum. Fortunately, because of the high scrap value of aluminum, there’s an incentive for aluminum to end up in the recycling pile rather than the trash pile.
The next step, sorting, is an extension of the collection process, and is the way in which aluminum gets separated out from other waste material and becomes ready to be recycled. This might be done by hand, but more likely will involve some sort of machine.
Once it has been separated out, the metal to be recycled will be cleaned and shredded in order to get it ready for melting. This is because melting smaller pieces of metal is less energy intensive than melting large chunks. The scrap metal will then be loaded into a furnace. As part of the melting it is also necessary to purify the aluminum, by eliminating any contaminating materials and make sure the remaining aluminum is of high quality.
Finally, the aluminum is cast into billet, slab or ingot form for further processing. It’s also possible to cast the metal into specific shapes that are ready for resale, one last step that serves to make the entire recycling process as efficient as possible.
How can you design your product with recyclability in mind?
Just knowing that aluminum is recyclable isn’t enough. If you really want to maximize your efficiency you need to build recycling into your design process. This can be done in a number of different ways, and largely depends on the type of application you are working with.
For instance, you can choose what material to use in your application in the design phase. Selecting a metal like aluminum rather than a non-recyclable plastic or a metal that is less easy to work with automatically ensures that your product is more sustainable.
If your process involves cutting, shaping, or shearing the metal, you’ll likely end up with waste material. If you’re using aluminum, all that waste metal will be reusable, but only if you are able to collect it all. This is another consideration that should influence the design of your application.
It might also be beneficial to consider the recycling of your post-consumer products. Not only does it allow for you to recover aluminum that can be used for future products, but it creates favorable publicity that can help earn customer loyalty. What you need to bear in mind is that while recyclability is a fundamental characteristic of aluminum, it doesn’t take place automatically. If you don’t build it into your design process or make it easy for your customers to recycle, then it likely won’t happen.
That’s why working with a partner who understands the importance of recycling and sustainability can make all the difference.
Your Trusted Services Provider
Recycling offers many benefits and opportunities for manufacturing. At Clinton Aluminum, we have a solid track record when it comes to supporting manufacturers at every step of the procurement process, and that includes recycling. We understand how important efficiency and sustainability are to the success of your business, and we take pride in our ability to promote your success by providing the exact product according to your requirements.
Moreover, our experienced sales team of technical professionals has a combined average of 13 years working for Clinton. It is thanks to them that Clinton is the Midwest’s leading supplier of aluminum and stainless steel products. However, we always strive to be more than just a supplier, but rather a true partner to our customers. Contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives today to learn more.