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Recycled aluminium’s role in reducing emissions

Annie Everill

Annie Everill

Recycling is a huge contributor to achieving a low-emission world and is something that consumers, businesses and charities across the globe are focusing on to meet their sustainable targets. 

Along with a string of other materials and resources, recycled aluminium contributes significantly to reducing emissions by conserving energy, reducing CO2 emissions, conserving natural resources, preventing waste, and promoting a circular economy. It aligns with the principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility and is something that a wide selection of industries has taken on board.

Here are some of the key ways in which recycled aluminium can help to reduce emissions and the role it plays in creating a more sustainable world. 

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Conserving energy

The production of aluminium is an energy-intensive process, however, recycling aluminium requires significantly less energy. Using recycled aluminium scrap to create new products consumes only around 5% of the energy compared to producing aluminium from a raw state. This reduction in energy consumption directly translates into lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Reduced CO2 emissions

When recycling aluminium, you can cut down on the need for new primary aluminium production, resulting in a reduction in CO2 emissions associated with mining, refining, and smelting.

Conservation of resources

As the process of recycling reduces the need for mining and extracting, ( reducing issues such as deforestation and habitat destruction ) this means the lifespan of aluminium is extended and reduces the demand for pure materials and further environmental demand.

Reduced waste disposal

Aluminium is a highly durable material, and recycling it prevents it from ending up in landfills. When aluminium products are discarded, recycling allows us to recover and reuse the metal, avoiding the release of harmful substances and offering a new lease of life for something that is still usable and safe.

Circular Economy

The recycling of any material promotes a circular economy. Where products are reused, remanufactured, or recycled, this means there is a reduced need for continuous production and the use of other aids and technology. This not only lowers emissions but also conserves resources and reduces waste.

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How is aluminium recycled?

Aluminium recycling is a well-established and efficient process that helps conserve resources and reduce energy consumption and is used in a wide selection of industries and business types.

Here’s a simple step-by-step overview of how aluminium is recycled:

  • Collection: The recycling process begins with the collection of aluminium products that have reached the end of their functional life. These items can include drinks cans, automotive parts, building materials and household items.
  • Sorting: Once collected, the aluminium materials are transported to a recycling facility where they will be sorted into different categories to separate aluminium from other materials.
  • Cleaning and shredding: After sorting, the aluminium items are cleaned to remove any impurities such as labels, coatings, or dirt. The cleaned aluminium is then shredded into small pieces.
  • Melting: The shredded aluminium is melted in a furnace at high temperatures. This process requires significantly less energy compared to the production of primary aluminium. Melting recycled aluminium also emits fewer greenhouse gases, contributing to emissions reduction.
  • Purification: During the melting process, impurities such as paint, coatings, and other non-metallic substances float to the surface and are removed, ensuring the aluminium meets high-quality standards.
  • Casting or extrusion: At this stage, the molten aluminium is either cast into bars or used in extrusion processes to create various aluminium products. The choice of method depends on the intended use and function.
  • Final product: The recycled aluminium is now ready to be used in the production of new products which can range from solar panels and packaging to construction or aluminium windows.

Aluminium windows by ABS

Installing aluminium windows and doors throughout a home or commercial building can help to improve thermal performance, reduce air leakage, maximise solar gain and provide double-glazed construction.

ABS have a team of professional window installers who fabricate aluminium windows for commercial properties across the UK. Covering round windowssquare windowsgothic arch and porthole, ABS aluminium windows provide a stylish, durable and energy-efficient solution for homes, offices, schools, factories and any other commercial space.

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