“Check out what you can do for the Environment.”
Recycling involves processing used materials into new products in order to prevent waste of potentially useful materials. Recycing reduces the consumption of raw materials, reduces energy usage, reduces air pollution and water pollution by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal. It also lowers greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production.
Many are surprised to learn that steel is the world’s most recycled material. Scrap metals can be recycled and used again for an indefinite period, meaning we protect and preserve some of nature’s most limited resources.
Recycling is undertaken for both economic and environmental reasons. It is always cheaper to recycle steel than to mine virgin ore and move it through the process of making new steel.
Many steel applications are durable however, and even though two out of every three tonnes of new steel are produced from old steel, the fact that cars, appliances, and bridges last a long time means it is necessary to continue to mine virgin ore to support the production of new steel.
Economic expansion, both domestically and internationally, creates additional demand that cannot be fully met by available scrap supplies. A steel mill using scrap steel in place of virgin iron ore to make a new product, gives the public outstanding value. The new product is comparable in performance to a similar product made from virgin iron ore and its manufacturing process offers fewer risks to the environment.
The US EPA calculates the benefits this way:
- Energy savings 75%
- Savings in virgin materials use 90%
- Reduction in air pollution 86%
- Reduction in water use 40%
- Reduction in water pollution 76%
- Reduction in mining wastes 97%
- Reduction in consumer wastes 105%
Every tonne of new steel made from scrap steel saves:
- 1,115 kg of iron ore, 625kg of coal, and 53kg of limestone
In a ‘greenhouse’ gas constrained future, energy is one of the most important benefits of metal recycling.
Energy savings from recycling other metals include:
- Aluminium 95%
- Copper 85%
- Lead 65%
- Zinc 60%
Recycling conserves ever-diminishing landfill space and the surface biodiversity destroyed in mining of new raw materials from the ground. It closes the resources loop ensuring valuable resources are not lost, but instead, are put to good use. The metals made from these ‘secondary resources’ then have a lesser impact in the remanufacturing process after recycling.
Recycling is a true example of a ‘sustainable’ industry – a concept fundamental to our society’s drive to reduce its environmental impact on the planet.
Metals recycling protects the environment and saves energy. Using secondary raw materials means reduced use of natural resources which would otherwise be needed to make new metal compounds – such as iron ore in steelmaking; nickel in stainless steel; or alumina and bauxite in aluminium smelting.
There are also considerable savings in energy, and reduced CO2 emissions, in production methods using recycled materials:
EU figures indicate that using recycled raw materials, including metals, cuts CO2 emissions by some 200 million tonnes CO2 emission reduction every year.