Environmental Reasons Why It Is Wise To Recycle Aluminum Cans

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If you want to be green in your activities and also want to save the environment for future generations, then recycling may be on the top of your list when it comes to activities that you partake in. Recycling is good for the environment, but you should know that you are not doing all that you can if you are throwing your aluminum cans in the trash instead of setting them out for your aluminum cans recycling pick up. There are many environmental reasons why it is best to recycle the cans. Keep reading to learn why.

It Saves On Energy

It is a highly complicated process to create aluminum products. Aluminum is actually one of the most abundant compounds in the earth's crust. The crust is the outermost shell of the earth that is about 30 miles thick. While aluminum is plentiful, it does not sit alone in the earth. In fact, most aluminum is made from something called bauxite. Bauxite is a rocky material that is about 50% aluminum. The other 50% is made up of trace minerals, sand, and iron.

Bauxite must be mined from the earth, and then the aluminum is extracted. Chemicals that include sodium hydroxide, starch, sodium sulfide, and lime may all be used to help extract the aluminum from the bauxite. More specifically, the chemicals remove the impurities and the other substances from the bauxite. Some of the aluminum is destroyed in the process, and this means that it takes about four pounds of bauxite to get one pound of aluminum. 

Once the aluminum is extracted, it must be smelted. The smelting process uses a great deal of carbon, which is then consumed. After the smelting process is completed, the aluminum ore is left behind and is formed into blocks. The blocks are sold and used to make products like aluminum cans.

The entire process to produce the aluminum requires a great deal of energy and resources. Resources are utilized as the machines mine the bauxite, extract it, smelt it, and mold it. Further resources are also needed to then melt down the aluminum bricks and create the finished products. Not only can this cause the release of greenhouse gases into the air, but energy reserves could better be used elsewhere. Much of the energy is also spent to create a great deal of waste. This waste is the tailings that are left behind after the mining and extraction.

It Reduces The Need For Strip Mining

New aluminum creation almost always starts with strip-mining. Strip-mining is where the very top layer of the earth is stripped away in long rectangular sections. Once the top layer of grass, dirt, and trees is removed, the more mineral-rich bauxite can be dug up and collected. When this happens, the dirt and other debris is collected in large piles. The piles remain in big mounds and the rain then washes the gravel and dirt into streams. This can clog the streams and cause pollution problems with the water. 

In general, the strip-mining can cause a great deal of erosion problems and can leave large plots of land barren without a great deal of nutrients. This can lead to issues later on if the mining area is replanted with trees and other greenery. However, this rarely happens due to the cost of replanting and revitalizing land that has been ravaged by mining. 

If new aluminum does not need to be mined, then large areas of land can be left alone. The good news is that aluminum can be reused over and over again. It simply needs to be melted down and reformed, and this can happen numerous times with the same can or other product. This can greatly reduce the impacts that aluminum creation and use has on the earth. 

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29 March 2017

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