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Encyclopedia

Metal

Did you know that Americans use over 100 million steel cans and over 200 million aluminum beverage cans every day? That’s enough to rebuild the entire U.S. commercial airliner fleet every three months!

And even though steel and aluminum are two of the most recycled waste products in the U.S., it is estimated that the percentage of these metal products that are being recycled has decreased by almost 20% in the past twenty years. Both aluminum and steel have high scrap metal recycling value, so the more that we recycle the more energy and money we can save.

What is metal recycling?

Metal recycling is the process of reusing old metal material, mainly aluminum and steel, to make new products. Recycling old metal products uses 95% less energy than manufacturing it from new materials.

Aluminum is an ore, which is a mineral, and it usually exists by combining with oxygen. To make an aluminum product an electrical current is run through the metal and separates the oxygen from the aluminum. The aluminum is then melted and shaped into various products. Steel is created in a chemical reaction process located in a hot blast furnace. During this process the iron ore is freed from the oxygen and is then used to make steel.

Both of these metal recycling processes consume millions of tons of energy. If we recycle metal products we only have to use 4% of this total energy, which can save our natural resources and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

What types of metal products can be recycled?

Almost all aluminum and steel products can be recycled over again without compromising its content. Here are some of the main recyclable products:

Aluminum

  • Soda cans
  • Appliances
  • Auto parts
  • Windows
  • Doors

Steel

  • Tin cans
  • Auto parts
  • Bridge parts
  • Appliances
  • Torn-down buildings

Metal recycling is a great way to create new car parts and building structures, both of which help our economy and lifestyles flourish.

What are the benefits of metal recycling?

Here are some benefits of recycling aluminum and steel:

  • You can go to scrap metal recycling facilities and get paid for what you bring
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Aluminum and steel can be recycled over and over again
  • Decreases environmental damage caused by mining
  • Less land and water pollution

Recycling metal such as aluminum and steel drastically reduces how much energy sources we consume every day. To learn more about metal recycling you can visit the Aluminum Association and Steel Recycling Institute websites or MetalsReuse.com.