How Are Aluminium Cans Recycled? | How Do They Do It?

How Are Aluminium Cans Recycled? | How Do They Do It?


Novelis is the world’s largest recycler of
used beverage cans. They arrive at its factory in Warrington,
England from all over the world. Compressed into bails, each weighing up to
1,000 kilograms and containing as many as 65,000 aluminium cans. Every year we save enough energy recycling
aluminium cans, cars, tools, even planes, to run the whole of India. The bales of compressed cans are loaded onto
a conveyor and fed into a 340 horsepower shredder. Aluminium is tricky to sort because unlike
some metals, it can’t be separated out with a magnet. So next, the shredded scrap passes through
an optical sorter at a rate of three meters per second. The machine uses infrared sensors to sort
out what’s metal and what isn’t. Then blasts away any plastic or glass with
jets of air. A powerful magnet sucks up any scraps of steel,
leaving just aluminium. We Brits say aluminium. And the Americans say aluminum. But who’s right? Well, Sir Humphrey Davey, the British guy
who discovered it in 1807, he wrote down the name as alumium, which no one calls it. Then he changed it to aluminum, and he changed
it again to aluminium. So, either he didn’t know what to call it
or he just couldn’t spell. It’s aluminium. Aluminum. The next problem is, aluminium doesn’t melt
until 660 degrees. The paint and laquer aren’t so lucky. They’re instantly vaporised. The clean aluminium chips are ready for the
next stage, melting. Two furnaces hit a blistering 730 degrees. And handle up to 100 tons of aluminium each. The trouble is, when the aluminium melts,
it reacts with air forming a layer of aluminium oxide that floats on top. This unwanted oxide is known as dross. A brave furnace operator skims it off with
a giant, steel spatula. And the alloy is ready for the casting area. The only problem is getting there. A river of molten metal flows downhill to
a holding furnace that’s the size of a double decker bus. Somehow, they need to pour the liquid metal
into a mold. Remarkably, the solution is to tip the entire
furnace. And a fountain of deadly metal pours into
one of three molds set ten meters into the ground. Inside, they will be cast into three towering
blocks of aluminium. After two and a half hours they have three
giant aluminium monoliths, called ingots. Each one is ten meters long, weighs 27 tons
and is made up of 1.5 million recycled cans. Aluminium, or aluminum, is not expensive because
it’s rare. In fact, it’s the most common metal in the
Earth’s crust. It’s expensive because it’s so hard to extract
from the rock around it. 150 years ago, it was more expensive than
gold. Today, demand for aluminium is so high the
ingots don’t lie around. Their transformation back into cans starts
with a 900 kilometre journey to a rolling mill in Germany. Here, they’re heated in another furnace to
525 degrees. This relaxes the bonds between the aluminium
atoms, releasing any stresses within the ingot. Then it’s passed back and forth through a
series of rollers. It’s a bit like rolling pastry. Each set of rollers thins out the metal until
it’s a quarter of a millimeter thick and 10,000 meters long. That’s 1,000 times its original length. Massive reels of the aluminium arrive back
in the UK at Ball Packaging to undergo reconversion into cans and possibly something a little
more out of this world. We’ve got three basic product categories,
beverage packaging, household metal packaging, and we also have an aerospace division. So, the interesting thing of course is manufacturing
beverage cans is rocket science. The aluminium alloys for rockets are very
similar to the ones used for cans. So theoretically, your old can could be on
its way to space. Meanwhile, on planet Earth, they feed the
sheets of aluminium into a rapid fire cupping press. This heavyweight knocks out thousands of shallow
cups. The secret of turning them into cans is a
tight squeeze. Every cup is rammed through a series of rings,
each narrower than the last. Forcing the aluminium through the rings squeezes
it into a cylinder and a new can is born. The very first time anyone put a beverage
in an aluminum can it was beer, it was in the US, and it was 1959. And even back then, they still recycled, you
got a cent for every can you brought back. They produce around 6 and a half million cans
here every day, and send them all over the world. That’s a whole lot of aluminium. Luckily, there’s plenty more where these came
from.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. Image result for The First Aluminum Beer Canwww.eater.com

    January 24, 1935

    Beer Can History. The “official” birthday of the beer can is January 24, 1935. That's the day cans of Krueger's Finest Beer and Krueger's Cream Ale first went on sale in Richmond, VA. But the beer can really made its debut some 14 months earlier – just before the repeal of Prohibition.

  2. So even though you are recycling the aluminum is being recycled. You're putting unwanted toxic gases into the atmosphere which is very bad. so technically this is not doing anything for the environment. So wow England what a way to think you're right

  3. Just say aluminum, it's less syllables! That's why you don't leave things to the Brits, they don't think anything through 🤪

  4. All well and good recycling this but what’ I don’t understand is that once it’s separated and made back to a block it’s then shipped to Germany then back to the UK to make cans. Why can’t the whole operation be done in one place reducing carbon footprint and cost of shipping back to Germany then back to the UK.

  5. I love my British friends!!..I do laugh at certain pronunciation though..and word usage..my favorite is "Hoover the carpet"…Hoover is a brand of vacuum cleaner…lol

  6. Flat Earth no DOUBT about it #flatearth #MUDFLOODS
    Ps this video proves space is fake time to wake up people

  7. They failed to leave out the plastic lining detail in between the can and beverage. Aluminum can cause alzheimers disease.

  8. Technically recycled cans aren't pure aluminum, they're an alloy. The tops of the cans are a different type of aluminum than the body of the can

  9. If every country recycled 100% of its waste the world would be a much better place. All consumables and packaging would have to be made 100% recyclable. Councils should have their own recycling centre where plastic is chemically broken down, glass and metal melted down and recycled. Heck even make their own compost from garden waste and cardboard and wood chips. I bet councils could make a profit once up and running.

  10. just remember, these companies dont give a fuck about our enviroment and the earth itself… you didint save energy by recycleing cans to run india or what not… its just profit and business, and they pushing climate change fear porn in between…

  11. All this re-manufacturing of alumimium and transporting it several times must use a lot of energy though.

  12. I refuse to recycle anything. The day that I was told that I was a bad person if I did not recycle was the day I started throwing EVERYTHING away. I hate Leftists.

  13. Doesn't seem too Earth friendly sending aluminium from all corners to one location. Energy wasted to recycle?

  14. In the 50s you got paid to recycle yet no one gave a shit about the “environment” today we’re in a crisis of constantly record breaking temperatures & I have to pay for the government to recycle. 🤦🏼‍♂️

  15. In india this type of industry has a chance to make business is medium level because in india most of the persons are using products in recycling

  16. AlY-mini-YouUm, took me a second to realize it was aluminum 😂🤦‍♂️ imma start using that to piss people off

  17. All cans have a plastic lining inside. Does it come apart in the shredding process or how did they separate it?

  18. I remember the Golden Goat where you could get paid to recycle your aluminum cans. It was a ridiculous rate – like $1 for like 100 cans.

  19. Do the recycling yourself and keep the aluminium ingots. Every useful material is only going up in value long term especially metals because money the thing you actually work for is losing value. By giving your cans to a recycler you are giving away the valuable material you paid an inflated price for in the first place and in most cases you are paying for the privilege of recycling because “it’s good for the environment”
    Meanwhile they get back the raw material for free and sell it back to you again at even higher price 🙂

  20. I think plastic beverage containers should be stopped and replace all beverages into aluminum cans then ensure every where you go has a recycling machine that pays .10 per can

  21. boy you brits… still have kings and queens… drive on the wrong side of the road… and now you guys don't know how to SAY aluminium correctly… you love being different don't you

  22. Makes me wonder if we could just throw those thrash on space..

    Its Aluminium, no! Its Aluminum? Whatever ugh

  23. I'm so glad they addressed what it's called because look at the spelling! It's not spelled aluminium, it's "aluminum"! Done.

  24. I started picking up this habit of walking out the house with a bag and where ever I go I pick up cans and recycle it's a win-win for me

  25. to run the whole of India ..
    well that's not impressive the only places in India that have power are the scammer call centers trying to get your info while claiming they are the IRS

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