Aluminium – A Sustainable & Recyclable Solution
November 8, 2022
Aluminium Recycling, Double Glazed Shop Fronts, Versatile, Strong, Range of Colours, Fast Installation
Aluminium is highly recyclable, in fact 75% of all the aluminium produced since the 1880’s is still being used today! For instance, aluminium windows which were installed at the Bodleian Library in Oxford over 80 years ago are still going strong. Although this is testament to the excellent and functional nature of aluminium, its extensive life expectancy makes recycling problematic. Whether used in construction, transport or any other industry globally, scrapped aluminium isn’t that easy to come by.
As scrap it is a valuable material, and is worth almost as much as new ‘prime’ aluminium. Recycling aluminium requires just 5% of the energy used in producing ‘prime’ aluminium from mined bauxite. This means it’s incredibly low carbon, and actually 60% to 70% of recycled aluminium is blended with the ‘prime’ material. The pure unadulterated product is seldom used these days, as other materials are mixed in to provide specific characteristics. These additions usually include things like copper, magnesium, manganese, tin, silicon, zinc and nickel.
100% of scrap aluminium today is obtained through building deconstruction, and cities are seen by many as ‘urban mines’ for the supply of recycled aluminium. More recently processes have been discovered whereby aluminium can be recycled back to its original grades. A long list of globally recognised grades exists, each with its own unique characteristics and particular applications. Grades are segregated when being recycled, so that when reprocessed it can be made into similar products like windows, doors and curtain walls.
A pioneering ‘closed loop’ recycling initiative has been introduced by the Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB). The scheme aims to ensure that scrap aluminium stays in the UK, and remains in the 6063 extrusion grade alloy. It is a voluntary initiative at the moment in the UK, although it’s mandatory in Germany.