It may be a blasphemous thing to say, but I’m generally not gung-ho about recycling. Sure, all the cool kids were in the grade five “Earth Club”, but after that I started to feel like it was more hype than truth. Paper biodegrades and, with properly managed forests, is a renewable resource. Plastic doesn’t recycle very well, and the smarter plan is to reduce it, and move to the newer eco-friendly plastic compounds. But aluminium, on the other hand, remains the poster-boy of recycling.
Most importantly, aluminium is totally recyclable. There is no loss in the process of melting down soda cans. The recycled aluminium is identical to freshly mined aluminium. If no more cans were tossed into landfills, and usage remained the same, it would be a closed loop system with no need for any more aluminium mines. The infinite re-cycle. Eco-bliss.
The cost of mining aluminium is very high compared to recycling. Aluminium comes from bauxite ore, and it takes a heckuva lot of electricity to refine that into pure sheet metal. Recycling aluminium saves 95% of that energy, plus the negative impact of mining and transporting the ore. Hello efficiency!
If you’re thinking “Hey, we should make more stuff from aluminium!”, I say “Hey, you’re smart!”. Aluminium is the third most abundant element on earth after silicon and oxygen. Australians would be happy too, since their country has 40% of the world’s bauxite reserves.
As a side note, if you’re thinking “Hey, how come you keep calling it aluminIum instead of aluminUm?”, I say “Hey, you must be an American!”. (this blog is written in Canada… much to the dismay of my spell-checker) The -ium ending (like titanium, magnesium, etc) is used thoughout the world, except the United States where through popular usage it’s been changed to aluminum. I guess it’s a southern drawl thing. I also like how they say iron… “ayrrrnn”.