Metals – aluminium and steel recycling

Steel and aluminium are common metals in the UK and are produced and exist in large quantities. Their uses and usefulness were discovered thousands of years ago. Longevity, malleability, strength and conductivity -their properties have been used over the ages to provide us with the many goods we see today. They may be found in items as varied as cars, computers, buildings and packaging. Although UK per capita consumption of steel has dropped since the 1970s, aluminium use is still growing. Metals may remain for many years as viable products and so the environmental effects of their production will be lessened relative to using less durable materials.

World primary production of aluminium is around 24 million tonnes on average a year. The largest producer of aluminium is Australia, although other producer countries include Jamaica, Brazil, Guinea, China and parts of Europe.

World crude steel production stood at 1.05 billion tonnes in 2004. This represented a worldwide increase in production of 8.8% compared to 2003. Excluding China, world production rose by 4.5% in 2004.

 Steel Facts and Figures
• Each household uses approximately 600 steel cans per year
• There are over 300million cans used per week over the xmas period
• The thinnest part of the can wall measures only 0.07mm thick – that’s thinner than a human hair
• It would take 1087 steel drinks cans stacked end to end to reach the top of the London Eye or 2818 to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower
• The value of used steel cans in the waste stream is £28 milllion per annum which is available to collectors.
• Don’t forget that 1.8 billion drinks cans are made of steel
• Millions of steel cans are collected every day by using huge magnets to pull them out of dustbin waste
• The recycling rate of all steel packaging is 46%; aluminum has a 23.4% packaging recycle rate .
• Steel cans are becoming lighter with the average weight of a soft drinks can in 2004 expected to be only 21.4g .In 1980 it was 31.2g
• There are over 2.5 billion cans recycled in the UK each year – [That’s a saving of 125,000tonnes of solid waste every year] that’s equivalent to the weight of 18,000 double decker buses!!
• All steel cans are 100% recyclable
• All steel cans contain up to 25% recycled steel
• Its not just food and drink cans made from steel! – most of your deodorants, hairsprays, polishes, paint cans and other household and DIY products are made out of steel too!
• Recycling one tone of steels cans saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore ,0.5 tonnes of coal & 40% water usage
• Two-thirds of all cans on supermarkets shelves are made from steel
• Recycling 1 tonne of steel scrap saves 80% of the CO2 emissions produced when making steel from iron ore
• Recycling seven steel cans saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 26 hours


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