December 2, 2012 by Steeler
Simply put, Americans use a shocking amount of metal every day, and it’s most commonly in the form of aluminum and steel cans. We buy food and sodas and other things in these containers without thinking about it too much, but the sheer quantity is staggering. Americans use more than 274 million cans every day. It should come as no surprise that many states and local governments now mandate recycling; and while there are downsides, they’re relatively small ones.
Of course, some hard numbers are in order. Aluminum and steel — and other non-iron based metals — have some of the highest recycling rates — the EPA for instance, pegs the recycling rate of aluminum cans at 48.2%, and the rate for steel cans at 62.9% Metals make up 21 million tons — or 8.4% — of the 250 million tons of waste in the municipal stream.
Those recycling figures sound impressive until you realize that, in almost all cases, metals can be completely recycled. Not only does this save a great deal of energy in producing the metal, but the impact of mining the metals is reduced, too. Recycling metal is often profitable, too, which is why there are businesses that will buy scrap and other kinds of used metals. It’s said that $800 million per year is raised solely from recycled aluminum cans.
Recycling these metals is not without its disadvantages, small though they may be. They must, for instance, be separated manually from other recyclable materials such as paper, which requires additional labor. Aluminum cans actually degrade after each reuse cycle, so the quality varies among recycled metal products, but it’s rare for metals to be unrecyclable. Recycling these materials also requires energy, albeit about 95% less energy than it would take to produce new material.
In short, the practice of recycling metals is a boon to both the economy and the environment, and the downsides are comparatively miniscule. It’s entirely unsurprising — and encouraging — that many municipalities are imposing stiff fines for the improper disposal of recyclable materials. There’s simply no good reason to avoid recycling.
More great recycling articles :::
Recycle Steel : Save Our Planet
Everybody knows that recycling and being green are great ideas for our planet.
Why It Pays to Recycle Copper
If you’re rehabbing a building and need to remove copper pipes and wire from the walls, your first instinct might be to just toss it, but that would be a huge mistake.
Aluminum Recycling Basics
Many people are starting to take initiative with helping the environment by recycling.
Why Recycle Aluminum?
Aluminum is a common enough material; you see it every day without even thinking about it.
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