Why metals can be recycled
Recycling metals helps to avoid worsening the current pollution situation by reducing water and air pollution and reducing the energy required. It also saves millions of tons of scrap metal.
These materials come from mining and extraction, but they are non-renewable resources. For this reason, the recycling of metals is essential in order to take advantage of them and make sustainable use of them. In addition, metal extraction processes contribute to leaving a significant environmental footprint, which can be reduced thanks to the recycling process.
Once separated, the next step is to compact the metals for easier handling. After that, the shredding process begins, with the aim of reducing the volume of the metal waste to save energy in the smelting process.
The sheets or pieces of metal resulting from the shredding go through a furnace to be melted. This is the process that makes the difference with the manufacture of completely new metals, since recycling uses much less heat and water than the process of producing metals from scratch.
Benefits of recycling metals
Promoting a circular economy and using recycled materials from waste for production presents a great opportunity for improvement going forward. But what waste can be recycled, what types of recycled materials are there, and what are the uses of recycled materials?
The manufacture of new products involves a constant demand for resources and materials. Since many of them are finite, it is necessary to invest efforts to make their use environmentally and economically sustainable, conserving them throughout the life cycle of the product and promoting the conversion of waste into resources.
The reduction of environmental impact through energy savings from the use of these materials is substantial: 95% for aluminum recycling, 85% for copper, 74% for iron and steel, and 65% for lead.
The wood that can be recycled comes mainly from industries. These industries dispose of wood waste such as pallets, wooden spools, furniture, chipboard, boxes and crates, offcuts, shavings, sawdust, pruning…
Examples of metal recycling
Metal recycling follows a four-step process, which includes collection, processing, fragmentation and distribution. Recycled iron and steel are important to the steel industry, and recycling of soft drink cans can be an important source of aluminum. Other metals, especially those found in electronic waste, can also be recycled and reused. Recycling metals and processing them into new products helps reduce raw material and energy consumption.
Other metals such as copper, silver, gold, lead and mercury can be recycled from electronics. These are important for the development of electronic components and have become a popular source of recycling. However, while these other metals can be reused, there is speculation about the ethics of the process, especially the export of electronics to other countries where they may be processed or handled in an unsafe manner.
Materials that cannot be recycled
Although we have probably already heard a lot about this topic, sometimes we get confused. Or, haven’t you ever thrown something in the colored bins when you don’t know the right way to do it?
Likewise, there are some materials that if they are very contaminated, dirty or greased, they cannot be recycled. For example: a cardboard box can be recycled but if it is wet or dirty we lose the opportunity to use it.
To recycle there are colored bins that help us to differentiate waste, classify the garbage and separate the garbage at home by dividing it into two: the elements that can be recycled and those that cannot. This activity, known as separation at the source, facilitates the work of the people in charge of sorting the materials.
Nowadays you can find in almost every place (schools, shopping malls and others) collection points with colored bins. Each one has a function and so that you can memorize them we are going to help you with some keys. If you want to do it at home, ideally you should have 3 bins: