Some states in the U.S. have consumers pay a deposit on their beer and soda cans so that people are more inclined to return them to the store; they in turn get their deposit back and those cans are recycled and kept out of landfills. If you live in an area that doesn't charge a deposit for aluminum cans, you may wonder why you should bother to recycle them since aluminum may not seem as harmful to the environment as plastic or Styrofoam.
Before you toss out another soda can or soup can, consider some surprising benefits of recycling aluminum and keeping it out of landfills. This may be motivation enough for you to start recycling all your aluminum products.
1. Aluminum production is a major contributor to pollution.
Aluminum production accounts for over 14% of the greenhouse gases that are created when new, virgin materials are harvested and produced to replace materials that could otherwise be recycled. The smelting process used to create aluminum produces both nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide, two gases that are very toxic and that are found in both smog and acid rain.
2. Aluminum production causes great damage to the environment.
Five tons of bauxite ore are required to produce one ton of aluminum. Harvesting this ore is very difficult and very damaging to the environment. It must be mined, crushed, and then further refined before it can be smelted, and this entire process creates a type of caustic mud that is left behind around the mines. This mud is known to contaminate groundwater and this in turn is toxic to the natural habitat of wildlife in the area of these mines.
Current recycling of aluminum, like with Koscove Metal Inc., is known to save about 5% of the world's mining of bauxite; the more aluminum that is recycled, the less of this material that must be mined and more of the environment that is preserved.
3. Recycling aluminum can help support charities.
Being concerned for the environment should be enough to encourage anyone to recycle their aluminum products, but consider that many charities can use these as donated materials. Charities often have donation centers set up outside their offices where you can drop off aluminum and other materials they can bring to recycling centers for cash. If you were to collect your own aluminum cans, pots and pans, and other items and donate them, you would be keeping them out of landfills and be helping to support charitable causes as well.