Monday, May 10, 2010
Production of aluminium, copper and other metals has steadily increased over recent decades around the globe. Recycling has also been increasing, reducing the growth rate of primary production of some virgin metals. Despite depletion of the richest ores and a shift to less concentrated ones, improvements in mining technologies have lead to generally declining, though fluctuating, metal prices. Supplies of these metals are sustainable for the foreseeable future. Sustainable development issues relate to energy consumption as well as health and environmental impacts. We must do all we can as a society to recyle metals whenever possible to ensure we have necessary supplies for future generations.
Aluminum is a metal that is widely used worldwide. One of the most common uses is for cans for soda pop, beer and other beverages. Approximately ninety-five percent of all beer and soft drink cans in North America are made of aluminum. In the United States alone, can makers produce about one hundred billion aluminum beverage cans a year. In addition to cans, aluminum can be used to store food. Aluminum is widely used in the manufacture of cookware and cooking utensils. Baseball bats and hockey sticks are commonly made of aluminum. The manufacture of automobiles, trucks and aircraft include aluminum as well.
Aluminum is a popular metal that we use often in our everyday lives. With the use of aluminum being in demand, recycling aluminum is a practical way to guarantee that we will always have enough to meet all of our requirements for everyday common uses. Recycling aluminum also saves energy because it takes a lot less energy to process recycled aluminum than it does to produce new aluminum from its natural source. Aluminum can recycling provides many environmental, economic and community benefits to individuals, communities, organizations, companies and industries. Recycling scrap aluminum requires only five percent of the energy used to make new aluminium.The aluminum can is the most valuable beverage container to recycle and it is the most recycled consumer product in North America today. Aluminum can be recycled into a lot of different products such as tractor trailer and car bodies, however, aluminum cans usually are recycled into new aluminum cans. Today it is cheaper, faster and more energy-efficient to recycle aluminum than ever before. The aluminum can is 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled indefinitely.
Beverages packaged in aluminum cans are purchased by millions of consumers around the world every day. Aluminim cans remain the most recyclable of all materials. Two thirds of cans produced in the United States begin the recycling process either at local recycling centers, community drop-off sites, charity collection sites, reverse vending machines or curbside pick-up spots. Aluminum cans from these sources are then gathered at large, regional scrap processing companies. At these recycling centers the cans are condenced into briquettes or bales and then shipped off to aluminum companies for melting. At the aluminum companies, the condensed cans are shredded, crushed and stripped of their inside and outside decorations by a burning process. Then, small pieces of aluminum are loaded into melting furnaces, where the recycled metal is blended with new, virgin aluminum. A great deal of time, energy and money can be saved through the recycling of aluminum. A growing number of consumer products are manufactured from recycled aluminum in the twenty first century. Recycled aluminum will be widely used in the unforeseeable future.
Tin and Steel Recycling:
Steel is an alloy that consists mainly of iron. Steel is one of the main raw materials used in the auto industry and used in the constuction of buildings. Some containers are also made of tin and steel, as well as food cans and some appliances .Steel is a durable material that has many uses today. Around sixty percent of all steel is recycled. All these items new contains a minimum of one quarter recycled steel. Steel recycling has little if any money value to recycle but a tremendous value to our depleting earth and energy conservation.
Over fifty percent of the world’s steel production uses recycled scrap metal making it one of the world’s most recycled materials. The steel industry has been actively recycling for more than a century, mainly because it is economically beneficial to recycle steel. It is cheaper to recycle steel than to mine iron and manage it through the production process to form new steel. Steel does not lose any of its characteristic physical properties during the recycling process, and has drastically saved energy and material requirements in comparision with refinement from iron ore.Tin and steel cans save a lot of energy if they are recycled. Reclaiming one ton of steel or tin saves 1.5 tons of ore. Steel cans are desired by the steel industry because they are a good source of steel scrap and their tin coating also can be recovered and recycled. Many recycling programs collect empty steel aerosol cans and paint cans in addition to food and beverage containers.
Mercury is a heavy silvery toxic univalent and bivalent metallic element and the only metal that is liquid at normal temperatures. Mercury is found in some consumer and industrial products and can be released into the environment when a product is disposed of improperly. Many products we use every day contain some levels of mercury. Some products are made with mercury added to perform a specific function. These are referred to as mercury-added products. Other products may have small amounts of mercury in them because some chemical used in the manufacturing process is contaminated with mercury. These products are referred to as mercury-containing products. Mercury-added products usually have much greater amounts of mercury in them than mercury-containing products. The most commonly identified mercury-added products include some types of thermometers, barometers, thermostats, batteries, and fluorescent bulbs. Other products that may contain mercury include detergents & cleaners, switches, medical products, cosmetics, old pesticides and old paints.
Mercury methods of exposure are in dental fillings; industrial and work place exposures such as those in the paint industry. Mercury is a very dangerous toxin. Mercury poisoning can be caused by any number of methods of exposure, including eating fish that have been exposed to mercury in the environment. Mercury poisoning can affect every system in the body. In addition to this, mercury poisoning inhibits the immune system and therefore the patient will have other diseases as well. Mercury is destructive to the immune system and causes many unrelated diseases as well as angry fits, short term memory loss, low self esteem, inability to sleep, loss of self-control and sleepiness.
Ensuring that mercury-containing products are properly and safely recycled or disposed of is one step that can be taken to protect environmental and human health. To avoid the risk associated with disposal of mercury-containing products, purchase mercury-free alternatives if available. Mercury-containing items should be treated as hazardous materials and should not be thrown in the garbage and liquid mercury should never be poured down the drain. Many municipalities have programs that accept household products that contain mercury. Some have implemented collection programs specifically for mercury-containing products, while others collect mercury-containing products as part of their household hazardous waste programs. You should contact your municipality to find out about local disposal options.
Copper is a reddish brown nonferrous mineral, which has been used for thousands of years around the world. Copper is closely related with silver and gold, with many properties common among these metals. Modern society has a number of applications for copper, ranging from coins to pigments, and demand for copper remains high, especially in industrialized nations. It is used as a heat conductor, an electrical conductor, as a building material and as a constituent of various metal alloys. Copper is commonly used in the electrical and plumbing trades. Copper is the third leading used metal after aluminum and iron. Copper usage is rapidly expanding as more and more products are containing computer and electronic components.
The entire economy of the copper and copper alloy industry is dependent on the economic recycling of any excess copper products. Good quality high conductivity copper can be recycled by simple melting and check analysis before casting, either to finished shape or for successive fabrication. Where copper has been contaminated and it is required to re-refine it, it is normally re melted and cast to anode shape so that it can be electrolytically refined.
Lead is a highly toxic metal found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. Because of its abundance, low cost, and physical properties, lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products including paint, ceramics, pipes, solders, gasoline, batteries, and cosmetics. Today, the most common sources of lead exposure in North America are lead-based paint in older homes, contaminated soil, household dust, drinking water, lead pipes, lead crystal, and pottery with lead finish. While extreme lead exposure can cause a variety of neurological disorders such as lack of muscular coordination, convulsions and coma, much lower lead levels have been associated with significant changes in mental behavior and development in young children. Lead needs to be disposed of properly and recycled when applicable.
Zinc plating of steel is the major application for zinc. Other applications for zinc are in batteries and in alloys. Zinc forms a large number of alloys, most commonly brass. It is used largely in the process of galvanizing iron, which consists in coating iron with a film of zinc. Today, over three quarters of the zinc available for recycling is recycled. Zinc is recycled at all stages of production and use and zinc is fully recycleable.
Precious Metal Recycling:
The best-known precious metals are gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are well known for their uses in art, jewellery and their use in currency. There is not much concern over these precious metals getting discarded due to their high monetary value. Gold from coins, jewelery, and even some computer parts, often are brought into places that buy gold so it can be recycled. Silver, athough not as valuable as gold is often found in coins, jewelery, eating utensils and other household items. It is common to recycle silver as well. Many companies purchase other precious metals such as platinum, palladium, iridium, rhodium, tantalum, indium, germanium and osmium. The precious metal industry is a big business in many parts of the world
Scrap Metal Recycling:
Scrap metal is a term used to describe recyclable materials left over from every manner of product consumption, such as parts of vehicles, building supplies, and surplus materials. Scrap metal is often found from old stoves and home appliances as well.Often confused with waste, scrap often has monetary value. Practically anything made of metal is worth something to a scrap metal dealer. Some things however are getting hard to get rid of though. Scrap is often taken to a scrapyard, wrecking yard or a junkyard, where it is processed for later melting into new products. A wrecking yard, depending on its location, may allow customers to browse their lot and purchase items before they are sent to the smelters although many scrap yards that deal in large quantities of scrap usually sell entire units such as engines or machinery by weight with no regard to their functional condition. Customers are normally required to supply all of their own tools and labor to extract parts in scrapyards. Many scrapyards also sell bulk metals by weight, often at prices substantially lower than the retail purchasing costs of similar pieces. Processing aluminum, brass, copper, steel and cast iron metal scrap into usable items has many benefits.
The cost of metals, such as copper and aluminum, has risen, but demand for recycled materials is still strong, because it costs more to drill, mine and process them. The scrap-metal recycling industry is ready to obtain the benefits of people searching for extra income. In the United States alone, scrap-metal recycling is $65-billion industry and employees about 50,000 people and recycles 150 million tons of scrap materials annually.
Recycling of metals is a great idea. The unfortunate fact is that unless there are clear economic gains from recycling metal, large-scale initiatives are unlikely to become popular. To be economically viable, the energy saved by recycling needs to be significantly larger than the energy needed to produce the metals from ores. We need to do everything we can to recycle metal. There is limited amount of new metal available and the more we strip our planet of these resources the scarcer some metals will become.