Aluminum's Environmental Impact
Aluminum is a popular choice for many manufacturing processes that require metals. Aluminum is a lighter material with one-third the density of steel, but it's one of the toughest and most durable metals. Aluminum is also highly malleable — it's possible to roll or hammer it into various shapes without breaking it — and offers excellent corrosion resistance.
In a time when sustainability and meeting stringent regulatory requirements are primary concerns, manufacturers in many industries have understandable concerns about the environmental impact of aluminum and all the materials they use in their production processes.
What Is Aluminum's Environmental Impact on Air, Land & Water?
Aluminum comes from bauxite, a sedimentary ore found in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The process of extracting bauxite from the earth's crust requires open-pit mining. Although bauxite ore rests relatively close to the surface, it's necessary to bulldoze extensive swaths of land to reach and expose it. The mined bauxite then undergoes a refining process consisting of electrolysis and a series of chemical reactions to transform it into aluminum.
The mining process takes a toll on the land and can contribute to biodiversity and habitat loss that impacts plant and animal life. The refining procedures can consume a significant amount of electricity and may create water and air pollution.
Increasing awareness of the damage caused by the bauxite mining and aluminum refining processes has led to positive changes in recent years. Mining operations in many countries are developing and implementing plans for restoring the land upon completing the excavation process. Companies are also discovering that finding ways to improve the refining process reduces their pollution output. It can also help reduce energy consumption, which improves the bottom line.
Why Investing in Aluminum Is Good for the Future
While these production processes can have a detrimental effect, it's easy to make the case that aluminum is an environmentally-friendly investment. From a sustainability standpoint, it's hard to match the value of aluminum. That's because aluminum is one of the most recyclable materials in the world. According to the Aluminum Association, nearly 75% of all aluminum metal ever produced in the United States is still in use today.
Aluminum has virtually limitless recycling possibilities. It's possible to melt and reconfigure used aluminum products and materials without compromising quality — you can use it again and again. The lighter weight also improves the energy efficiency and fuel economy of automobiles containing aluminum parts and components. Businesses that purchase aluminum for their manufacturing processes add value to their products and become better stewards of the environment.
Contact HARBOR Aluminum Intelligence to Learn More
As the only market intelligence firm specializing in the aluminum industry, HARBOR is your best resource for the latest information on the environmental effects of aluminum. We provide access to timely data, reports, consulting, and expert advice you can trust when evaluating aluminum purchases for your business or organization.
Contact us for more information today.