As we continue our voyage into the 21st century, the environmental threats we face continue to grow. Global warming is a hot topic across the globe and companies, large and small, are changing policies to become more environmentally friendly.
As our resources are depleted, we need ways to ensure our way of life continues. Recycling products so they can be reused is a huge part of the process, and that includes metal.
We can all do our bit for the environment. We’re now used to recycling our plastic, paper, and cardboard. We look for the right bin when we’re throwing away our rubbish, but how many of us recycle metal? Metal recycling is a great way to help improve your positive environmental impact, but how? Let’s take a look.
Metal is made from, what is known, as ‘virgin’ metal ore. This ore generally comes from mines, but it’s finite. There’s only so much of it available and it’s non-renewable, it doesn’t just grow back once it’s removed. That is one of the main reasons why metal recycling helps the planet.
The areas that are rich in metal ore are often found underground, but the landscape above can be decimated when mines move in to extract the ore. This impacts the visual beauty of an area and can cause havoc to the wildlife that exists there. Metal recycling stops mines from being created. Whilst the recycling plants are never a pretty sight to see either, they can be located away from places of outstanding natural beauty and don’t impact the wildlife.
Recycling metal uses less energy than smelting virgin ore. But they both have a price to pay in terms of consumption, but for the same amount of energy, you can make 20 cans from recycled metal rather than only one from raw ore. If you take that can and recycle it again, you can conserve enough energy to power a lightbulb for 4 hours.
We’re all used to our household rubbish being taken away on a weekly (or fortnightly) basis. Scrap collection isn’t as scheduled or managed by local authorities to the same degree, but it does play a part in helping us stay green. By collecting scrap metal and taking it to the local recycling plant, the metal you throw away gets to be reused as something else. Every tonne of recycled steel saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore, 1/2 tonne of coal, and almost a tonne of CO2.
The biggest threat to our planet comes from the greenhouse gases that get released into the atmosphere. Gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrous oxide (NO) are spewed into the air in huge amounts, but thanks in part to metal recycling, those gases are coming down. The more we recycle, the fewer gases will be released. With polar ice shrinking at alarming rates and the levels of seawater rising as a consequence, anything we can do to cool the temperature of the Earth can only be a good thing.
Types of Metal
Whilst all metals can be recycled, the types of metals that do predominantly come from industry and household waste – this can be anything from as simple as a can to previously installed TV aerials. These are iron and steel. Steel saves, on average, between 62% and 74% of energy, but only 30% of the metal in the UK that is used goes to recycling. We need to take a new look at metal recycling. We need to include it in our daily lives as much as we do for paper and plastics. We only get one planet to live on, so let’s go greener and recycle everything we can.