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To What Extent Does Recycling Decrease The Carbon Footprint

870 words - 4 pages

Introduction to Metals
Metals are natural components from the earth that are found in compounds but are separated to individuals. The recycling process of metals begins by separating the metals collected into two groups, aluminum and steel, reclaimable metals include aluminum products such as tin coated steel containers, bi-metal containers, nonferrous metals, and ferrous metals. After the metals have been classified by type, they are then dissolved into a molting hot liquid which is later poured into blocks and set-to cool. Aluminum melts at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit whereas steel melts at an even higher temperature of 2, 800 degrees Fahrenheit .Hence more energy is need to make steel products than to make aluminum products. Aluminum comes from bauxite ore which requires a great amount of raw material to produce a small quantity of the product. An estimated six pounds of ore may be essential to produce one pound of aluminum. Because bauxite is usually mined from equatorial rainforests, it entails removing vegetation and the topsoil from big areas of land; they therefore distribute new soil to recover the lost.
The process of manufacturing aluminum takes a great deal of electricity, which comes from burning fossil fuels. The refined bauxite is mixed with blistering soda and is heated in a kiln, to create the aluminum oxide. A white powder then undergoes an electrolytic reaction, in which a direct electrical current is used to separate out the oxides and produce the material into aluminum. The material is then heated up to almost 3000˚F for this operation to occur. The processing of bauxite into aluminum results in large measures of waste (called “mud”) which comprises of heavy traces of metals and other hazardous substances. The outcome of the melting process that is called “pot liner” which contains fluoride and chlorine of which must be disposed of as hazardous waste. An estimated 0.02 pounds of pot liner is produced per every pound of aluminum. Since aluminum production acquires a high embodied energy content it is best convenient when its light weight, corrosion resistant, and low maintenance can be used an advantage.
The process of recycling aluminum requires only about 20% of the energy of refining bauxite into usable metal. Although recycling of an aluminum beverage container is common, only about 15% of the aluminum used in construction is ever recovered. Aluminum is a highly valued item for recycling because it can be infinitely recycled. Aluminum products include soda cans, aluminum foil, and other aluminum scraps. Then there are the tin coated steel container...

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