Despite the ease of collecting and recycling aluminum cans, many individuals discard them since they are still popular. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that Americans recycled barely half of the cans they purchased in 2009. A significant amount of energy is saved by recycling aluminum cans, and the CO2 emissions and amount of garbage are both reduced. For the environment, you should get involved in recycling and collect your aluminum foam bottles.
While aluminum is now viewed as affordable and abundant, 130 years ago, it was seen as expensive and hard to find. “Chemical Principles” reveals that it was impossible to sell aluminum in the 19th century because it was expensive to refine it from bauxite. To signify the substance’s importance, people put aluminum tips on landmarks like the Washington Monument. Engineer Charles Martin Hall found a less expensive process to extract aluminum from bauxite in 1886. His discovery is still employed today. The Hall process has many drawbacks, namely the substantial quantity of energy that it requires. Using data from the Aluminum Association, a trade group, the energy needed to power a television for three hours can be saved if you recycle just one can.
Reducing Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
In the Hall method, a pair of graphite electrodes (graphite submerged in molten alumina, or Al2O3) is used to generate electrical current. When the graphite electrodes mix with the molten alumina, the carbon inside the electrodes releases carbon dioxide. A significant amount of carbon dioxide is emitted during the aluminum extraction process, even if the pure aluminum is extracted in the process In the recycling of aluminum, only 5% of the CO2 is emitted when making fresh aluminum bottles.
Information About What’s Making Global Warming Worse
Examples of small-scale individual actions for the environment include recycling, which has a significant impact. Choosing to throw out or recycle an aluminum can not seem like it has a significant influence. Still, when considering the many choices that many people make every day, it becomes more apparent that they can have quite an effect. For the environment, aluminum recycling is a huge boon, with additional benefits.
To make a can, it takes energy from mine workers, all the way through the processing plants. Because a large amount of effort is used in mining raw aluminum, the energy saved from recycling even a single aluminum can is substantial. It requires 95% less energy to make a can out of recycled aluminum, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling only one can save enough energy to run a T.V. or computer for three hours. Reference 1 has more information on this topic of aluminum perfume bottles.
The Byproducts of Aluminum
Virgin aluminum is refined by a procedure that produces hazardous byproducts. One ton of garbage is produced for every ton of aluminum created, according to the EPA. The refinery muds are highly radioactive and can contain harmful substances such as arsenic and chromium. These muds have no purpose. Thus they’re kept in storage reservoirs. (Note: The reference materials are in the links above.) A can of soda will make you fat and can perhaps kill you.
Habitat Loss and Pollution
No matter where you are in the aluminum manufacturing process, you’ll be exposed to contaminants because of the virgin aluminum refinement. The runoff that mining produces can contaminate the soil and streams. Producing virgin aluminum also results in the release of greenhouse gases and acid rain-related chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
The countries that engage in aluminum mining also experience habitat loss and the displacement of native populations. (Page 1 of the attached references) Most aluminum mining happens outside the U.S., with only a few notable exceptions (see References 2). It causes further habitat loss as well because it includes building hydroelectric dams to power aluminum processing activities. By recycling aluminum, many of the more harmful methods of aluminum production are avoided.