The Metal Industry vs. the Environment

The Metal Industry vs. the Environment

The world is coming to the realisation that if it’s not sustainable it’s got to go. But metal is not only a sustainable material but renewable too.

What makes something renewable?

Renewable resources are considered to belong to the natural environment and are replenished by the natural processes that occur in that environment.

How is metal sourced?

Metals are extracted from the Earth’s crust through mining. Mining usually brings to mind the idea that we’re harming the Earth in some way, for example mining for fossil fuels such as oil and coal has been detrimental to our planet. But mining for metal isn’t depleting the Earth’s natural resources in the same way…

Metals are elements and therefore cannot be destroyed or depleted. The Earth’s overall quantity of metal has not decreased, but simply changed locations over time – presenting itself in different forms and in different places.

Metal Mining in Europe

 

Is metal sustainable?

Metal is a recyclable material, once a metal product is no longer needed it can be recycled and reused in the creation of another product. Therefore, unlike many other materials, metal has no end to its lifespan – through recycling it remains a permanently accessible material.

Consequently, each time an aluminium or steel product, for example, is recycled into a new product, the properties of the metals are retained. As a result, this cycle can take place an infinite amount of times with little to no change to the inherent properties of the metal. 

No other material known to mankind can be reused over and over to be re-purposed indefinitely. Not wood, glass, stone or plastic! This is because once formed, metal is only ever used, instead of consumed (the way wood or plastic is consumed on a fire for example). This makes metal one of the most sustainable materials on earth. It is not only environmentally conscious but economically sound due to its long life and durability. Metal products, especially stainless steel, can usually last for several decades. Of course there will be a time when the product does come to the end of its useful life (for example because it no longer looks desirable). Even though the end of life is reached, this does not mean that it’s not useful as a recyclable product.

Did you know?

  • EU data from 2019 suggests that by using recycled materials, CO2 emissions are currently being slashed by around 200 million tonnes each year.
  • Aluminium is one of the most widely recycled materials and through the recycling process it saves 95% of the energy that it would cost to produce new aluminium.
  • Steel is recycled even more so than aluminium, paper, glass and plastic combined!
  • The environmentally conscious metal straw trend that has surfaced recently is thanks to stainless steel recycling.
  • The production process uses stainless steel scrap as its primary raw material and new stainless steel is made up of over 70% recycled material.
Stainless steel is one of the worlds most recycled materials.

 

 

For more info and a fuller insight on the sustainability and renewability of metal, visit https://www.azahner.com/blog/metal-sustainability

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