In spite of the significant efforts in a number of countries, are we surprised that metal recycling rates are low? Many reports embrace the fact that a ‘recycling society’ still appears to be a distant hope. Numbers tell it all as we look at the many items we do not recycle. Unlike some other resources, metals are “naturally recyclable”. Poor performance in our communities is evident and frustrating.
Other than recycling steel from cars (:recycled steel bars or coiled rolls) the other metals that are recycled are listed below.
Top Ten Metals Recovered
- Aluminum (main uses: in construction and transportation)
- Lead (main use: batteries)
- Tin (main uses: cans and solder)
- Copper (main uses: conducting electricity and heat)
- Chromium (main use: stainless steels)
- Nickel (main uses: stainless steels and super alloys)
- Niobium (main uses: high strength / low alloy steels and super alloys)
- Manganese (main use: steel)
- Gold (main uses: jewelry, electronics)
- Silver (main uses: electronics, industrial applications (catalysts, batteries, glass/mirrors), jewellery);
With efficient recycling, metals can be used over and over again. It prevents us from being bandits and scraping metals from the earth. Garbage is growing as our society grows. It’s non-stop. We have to sort out our garbage and use all of it all again…and again…and again. burying garbage is a thing of the past. If you follow the news. you will remember when Sweden started buying garbage from other countries and using it for fuel to heat their homes. How good is that! Minimizing the need for mining and processing virgin materials has more benefits. It decrease the energy used to process material. Water requirements are reduced. Preventing land erosion is another benefit. We need to put more efforts into recycling at home and in the community. Success in raising levels of recycling worldwide would benefit the transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient Green Economy while assisting in the creation of green jobs.
Some studies suggest that recycling metals are between two and 10 times more energy-efficient than smelting the metals from virgin ore. At the same time, extraction alone currently accounts for 7% of the world’s energy consumption. We need to reduce the carbon emissions does contribute to climate change.
Recommendations Towards Improving Recovery
The study offers recommendations on how recycling could be increased worldwide. These suggestions include:
- Encouraging product design that makes disassembly and material separation easier
- Improving waste management and recycling infrastructure for complex end-of-life products in developing countries and emerging economies
- In industrialized nations, addressing the fact that many metal-containing products are ‘hibernating’ in places likes drawers and closets and others, such as mobile phones, are all too often ending up in dustbins
Also recommended is the ongoing improvement of recycling technologies and collection systems to keep pace with “ever more complex products created with an increasingly diverse range of metals and alloys.”
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