Recycled or Secondary Aluminium
- Aluminium is relatively unique in being highly economic to recycle. Metal can be reclaimed and refined for further use at an energy cost of only 5 per cent of that required to produce the same quantity of aluminium from its ore. There has been a healthy secondary metal industry for many years and as refining techniques improve the use that can be made of reclaimed aluminium will increase from its present usage in Europe of 40% of all metal currently processed.
- The most dramatic example of recycled metal is in the United States . In the USA of the one million tonnes of aluminium sheet used annually for beer and beverage cans, over 50% is supplied from used can scrap. Europe is now following this example with the building of dedicated aluminium can recycling plants.
- Aluminium recycling is the process by which scrap aluminium can be reused in products after its initial production. The process involves simply re-melting the metal, which is far less expensive and energy intensive than creating new aluminium through the electrolysis of aluminium oxide (Al2O3), which must first be mined from bauxite ore and then refined using the Bayer process. Recycling scrap aluminium requires only 5% of the energy used to make new aluminium. For this reason, approximately 31% of all aluminium produced in the United States comes from recycled scrap. Used beverage containers are the largest component of processed aluminium scrap, with most UBC scrap manufactured back into aluminium cans.
- Sources for recycled aluminium include aircraft, automobiles, bicycles, boats, computers, cookware, gutters, siding, wire, and many other products that need a strong light weight material, or a material with high thermal conductivity. As recycling does not damage the metal's structure, aluminium can be recycled indefinitely and still be used to produce any product for which new aluminium could have been used.