Is aluminium better for the environment than plastic?
Plastic’s environmental footprint is widely documented globally, with new details of its scale and impact on the world being revealed on a daily basis.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) first Global Plastics Outlook report, plastic pollution is relentlessly growing. What’s more, twice as much plastic is being produced on a global scale than two decades ago.
Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) predicts that by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea (by weight).
What was once hailed as a materials breakthrough that’s infiltrated almost every single element of everyday life, from carrier bags and cling film to drinks bottles and more, has left an unshakeable imprint on the environment.
Aluminium, on the other hand, is a completely different entity with an entirely different composition to plastic. And when compared to other metals, it’s actually one of the most environmentally-friendly metals on the planet.
Not only is it lightweight, strong and resistant to corrosion, warping and flexing, aluminium is highly sustainable. In fact, it’s so sustainable it’s widely known as the being the ‘green metal.’
Is plastic better than aluminium?
While plastic may have its advantages from an everyday perspective, e.g. it’s versatile, lightweight, waterproof, chemical resistant and durable; many of these advantages are why it’s so damaging to the planet.
For instance, plastic bags that may have been manufactured and used decades ago are yet to decompose. More concerningly, the Center for Biological Diversity says it can take up to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in landfill. And when it does, it breaks down into microplastics that absorb toxins and cause wider pollution.
There’s also the fact that only 9% of plastic is successfully recycled, as highlighted in the OECD’s Global Plastics Outlook report.
When you compare aluminium’s sustainability credentials with plastic’s, there really is no comparison.
Not only is aluminium fully recyclable, unlike plastic, it can be recycled over-and-over again, meaning it has infinite properties. What’s more, it takes just 5% of the energy that’s used to make primary aluminium to recycle it.
Can aluminium be 100% recycled?
Yes, it can, which is yet another key advantage of this wonderfully green metal. Every single element of it can be recycled, using up to 95% less energy than it takes to produce it from raw materials. Every time aluminium gets recycled, it generates increased carbon savings.
As a zero-to-landfill site, we’ve refined our recycling processes so that our customers can reap the full benefits of 100% recycling their aluminium. One of these customers is Origin Global, a leading manufacturer of bespoke aluminium bi-folding doors and windows.
Thanks to our closed loop recycling process, we pass on 88% of the company’s extrusion to remelting companies. We then send the remaining 12% for further recycling. For more details, read the full case study, ‘How we helped Origin Global 100% improve their scrap recycling rates.’
Aluminium always has and always will be a superior material. This incredible metal is used sector and application-wide, delivering widespread results with an enviable carbon footprint.
For more on the benefits of aluminium recycling, read our blog, ‘What are the advantages of recycling aluminium?’
If you have any queries or would like to discuss your aluminium recycling requirements with us, email our Commercial Manager, Ed George, at email@example.com