Aluminium is a valuable resource which can be recycled indefinitely with no waste. One tonne of recycled scrap aluminium will make one tonne of new aluminium.
Aluminium occurs in nature as bauxite, a mixture of aluminium oxides, iron oxides and clay. Manufacturing this metal is a complex and energy intensive process. Producing recycled aluminium saves 95 percent of the energy used to make aluminium from raw materials. Recycling also decreases the amount of waste in landfill, reduces the demand for raw materials and reduces water use. Millions of dollars are now being paid annually for scrap aluminium.
Environmental Benefits of Commercial Recycling for Aluminium - Scrap
"Everyday" and unit savings per tonne of aluminium - scrap1 recycled:
|85,770 km driven2|
|17.7 tonnes CO2e|
|106 houses' energy for a month3|
|191.4 GJ LHV (53,2145 kWh)|
|1,154 bath tubs4|
|202 kL water|
|28 wheelie bins5|
For an explanation of key terms used, please visit our Glossary.
Aluminium is a cost-effective material to recycle and there are a numerous commercial metal recyclers operating in Australia that will pay money for scrap.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
Aluminium recyclers compact and sort the scrap aluminium before delivery to the recycling site. Scrap aluminium is then classified so the processing path can be determined. Un-coated aluminium is loaded directly into a large furnace and heated at high temperatures and turned into molten form. Coated aluminium is processed to remove any coatings and then transferred to the smelter. Alloys are added to suit the end purpose of the aluminium then cast and rolled into sheets.
More Info & Sources
1. Data for aluminium - scrap (Commercial & Industrial and Construction & Demolition recycling only) contained in Table 4 (p.14) Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (2010) Environmental Benefits of Recycling, DECCW, Sydney South
2. “Everyday” greenhouse gas emission savings expressed as number of kilometers driven by an average new passenger and light commercial vehicle (206.6g CO2e / km). National Transport Commission (2012) Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2011 Information Paper
3. “Everyday” cumulative energy demand savings expressed as average household monthly electricity requirements (500 kWh). 1GJ LHV = 278kWh (GJ LHV = Giga-joules of fossil energy (low heating value); kWh = Kilowatt hour)
4. “Everyday” water savings corresponding to average sized bath tubs (0.175 kL capacity)
5. “Everyday” solid waste savings represented by number of average sized wheelie bins (55kg capacity)