Aluminum is a material that has a low impact on the environment and its inherent qualities make it efficient to produce as well as protecting and conserving our natural resources.
Environmental Attributes of Aluminum
- Today, aluminum is the most commonly recycled post-consumer metal in the world. (The Aluminum Association)
- Aluminum can be recycled and reused over and over without losing any of its characteristic attributes. (The Aluminum Extruders Council)
- Aluminum recycling saves 95 percent of the energy required to produce aluminum from raw materials. (The Aluminum Association)
- It takes four pounds of bauxite (raw material) to make one pound of aluminum and every pound of recycled aluminum saves four pounds of ore. (The Aluminum Extruders Council)
- Since the first recorded year of aluminum production in 1893, an estimated 700 million tons of aluminum has been produced of which 400-500 million tons (3/4 of output) is still in productive use. (The Aluminum Extruders Council)
- Recycled aluminum allows you to achieve the recycled LEED® requirement MR4 (materials with recycled content such that the sum of the post-consumer recycled content plus one-half of the pre-consumer content constitutes at least 10% or 20% (based on cost) of the total value of the materials in the project.)
At the end-of-life stage in a building, aluminum is 100-percent recyclable, and may be reused in building components without any loss in quality.
The 2006 member survey of End Use Shipments of Aluminum Extruded Products, conducted jointly by the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) and The Aluminum Association, Inc., shows that total aluminum rod and bar, pipe and tube, and extruded profiles contribute 1.3 billion pounds of aluminum used in building and construction industries, primarily in doors, windows and curtain walls.
Recycled materials use natural resources, and need to be used effectively again to avoid impacts on the planet…furthermore, recycling creates jobs.
The VAIP (The Aluminum Association’s Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership) program has reduced U.S. emissions of PFC (perfluorocarbon) from aluminum smelting by well over 50 percent from 1990 levels.
Focus in other areas include reducing air emissions, water discharges, solid waste and other areas of recycling and purification which include but are not limited to: Removal of caustic (Sodium Hydroxide) out of the air from die shop scrubber units, recycling of acetone & xylenes used in paint lines to clean and flush out lines, use of caustic etch recovery units in the anodizing lines to dissolve aluminum from the caustic thus allowing the caustic to be continuously re-used, use of thermal oxidizers on the paint lines to remove the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from the air prior to emission and recycling of packaging materials.
Aluminum's inherently recyclable, sustainable and versatile characteristics combined with the extrusion process make extruded aluminum a popular choice for the green building industry…