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Aluminium

Aluminium recycling process

Why recycle?

Recycling is one way we can all help to ensure an environmentally sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come.

Fact:

The UK uses 12 billion cans a year - enough to stretch to the moon and back!

Collection

Collection

Many things are made from aluminium, but probably the most recognisable are cans. Aluminium cans for recycling can be collected from people’s homes, from recycling sites, and from businesses.

Sorting

Sorting

Before being taken to an aluminium recycling facility, the cans are passed under a magnet to remove any steel cans. Aluminium is a non-ferrous metal, so it is not magnetic. Steel is a ferrous metal, so it is magnetic. The magnet picks up the steel cans and separates them from the aluminium.

Baling and Compressing

Baling and Compressing

The remaining aluminium cans are then crushed and compressed to form bales, and transported to an aluminium recycling facility.

Shredding and Decoating

Shredding and Decoating

Once at the facility, the cans are shredded into small pieces about the size of a 50 pence piece. These pieces then pass through a magnet which removes any remaining ferrous metals such as steel.

The shredded aluminium then travels to a decoater, where hot air (at 500°C) removes any coating or decoration.

Melting

Melting

The hot cans go straight from the decoater to the furnace, where they are melted at a temperature of 700°C. Once melted, the liquid aluminium (also known as molten aluminium) is transferred to a holding furnace which cleans any remaining contaminants, and a degasser which removes any gas.

New aluminium

New aluminium

The liquid aluminium is poured into cooled rectangular shaped moulds. The cooling turns the aluminium back into a solid metal and the solid moulded shapes are called ingots. These aluminium ingots are taken to a saw where the ends are made square, and are now ready to be transported to a rolling facility, where they will be rolled into large sheets of aluminium ready to be made back into cans!

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