Technological advancement will increase. We need materials that are available in abundance and can be recycled with no, or as little as possible, impact to the environment. Aluminium recycling is endless.
Product disposal, waste?
When the lifetime of a product ends there are two options: put it somewhere as waste and get environmental pollution or reuse the materials. For each material the possibilities for recycling are different. The big advantage of Aluminium is that you can reuse it time and time again without loss of quality/capability.. Due to the low required energy for recycling and it’s “easy” process, Aluminium is wanted for recycling.
The value of 1 kg Aluminium is equal to 1 kilo recycled Aluminium. (as long as the alloy is the same of course, more about that later). This means Aluminium waste = money. So Aluminium waste equals money.
Still some people’s perception is, I need primary material, although this is not relevant for Aluminium. The recipe of the alloy is key for the characteristics, primary or secondary.
Each Aluminium product has on average already 52% recycled metal content in Europe. Since Aluminium is a relatively young material, industrial production was only possible after 1886 as opposed to e.g. the iron and it iron age around 1200 B.Chr.) we cannot supply the need at this moment with the current material available via recycling. (yet)
The value of Aluminium scrap depends on the composition. Aluminium can be selected on form which determines composition.
Aluminium alloys can be selected separated at the manufacturer, uniform scrap has the higher perceived value by the recycler.
After its product life time you can easily make an alloy selection by separating on form. E.g. if a building is stripped place the profiles on the profile bin, plates together at the plates and knots in the casting corner. You have now a very good separation of the different alloys quite easily.
There are lots of ways to separate alloys some are very basic like above some are very sophisticated. Since Aluminium = money, it’s worth it.
The value of Aluminium scrap also depends on the purity. For standard commercial alloys, the more pure, e.g. 99,5 % Al, the cheaper the Aluminium; if you apply it for its application. This is because these low strength alloy’s needed minimum work to fabricate. On the other hand, for recycling, this type of Aluminium with a low level of impurities can be used in many different Aluminium recipes, so value of the scrap is relatively high.
For household waste several possibilities are used. About 70% of all the Aluminium throw away is captured and reused. A welcome advantage here is Aluminium = money. So instead of costing money to burn or landfill it delivers income. For separation different processes can be used. E.g. like eddy current.
Because Aluminium is a conducted light material, it is influenced by the rotating magnet with North-south poles. This generates an eddy current. Aluminium pieces crossing this area get accelerated and are separated.
So if your product consists of different materials you can either design for disassembly, then separate on form or shred into parts.
For Aluminium the loop today is nearly closed. From all the Aluminium material ever produced 75% is still in use. For automotive and building the recycling percentage is above 95%. Since manufacturers know exactly which alloy they prefer, manufacturers offer more and more to take their product back in return at the end of its lifetime. Although the recycling system in Europe is quite efficient and for environmental reasons this is not necessary, economically it can be beneficial. The closed loop of Aluminium will become shorter and more efficient. Just by the fact Aluminium is worth it.
Whats your biggest question about aluminium recycling? Please put your answer in the commentbox below. It will be appreciated! Thanks in advance.