Material Guide - Metal
Metals are mainly found in the soil surface such as different ionic compounds, so called minerals. Therefore extracting pure metals demands a comprehensive treatment.
Here we will tell you more about different types of metal, recycling and how you can make a difference as a consumer and / or brand owner.
Iron is made from various iron oxides found in iron ore. The iron ore is mixed with coal and lime and heated in a blast furnace. The carbon reduces the oxidations so that the iron ions are released from the ionic compound and in the process formes crude iron containing about 4% carbon. The content of carbon cannot be more than 2% for the iron to be formable.
Iron production has a big environmental impact. The ore mining requires major interference in the landscape, many toxic substances are released and large amounts of waste (slag) that contains environmentally hazardous substances is formed. These are with the rainwater released out in the surrounding nature. Processing also requires large amounts of energy, provides major carbon dioxide emissions and emissions of organic compounds, nitrogen and sulfur oxides. The industry is working to reduce its environmental impact with for example filters, slag use and energy optimization. Such measures have been completed and carried out continuously. A part of the residual products can for example be used in road construction and the chemical industry.
Aluminum is a common metal in the crust and is found in almost 270 different minerals. Bauxite is a mineral that contains a lot of aluminum, and is used in aluminum production today. A lot of bauxite is found in Australia, India, Africa and South America. Bauxite is mined and made into aluminum in two steps
1. The Bayer process where the bauxite is crushed and mixed with lime and sodium hydroxide and
2. The Hall-Hérlot process where they use electrolysis to convert aluminum oxide to aluminum.
WHY RECYCLE METAL?
The production of iron and aluminum requires different methods, but both require major interventions in the landscape, large amounts of energy and leads to toxic substances leaking into nature.
The world's need for metals is large and growing, therefore it is important to recycle and reuse. These are the most energy-efficient measures since the mining industry has a great impact on the environment. Aluminum and steel can be recycled without loss of quality at any number of times. Metal packaging is ground and the steel is sorted out by means of magnets.
Creating the perfect sustainable product is a challenge and the choices you have to make are many. How do you ensure that the packaging material's, color, etc. are as environmentally friendly as possible?
Click down below and download our guide to see how you make the best decisions for your particular product!
Help the consumer
One simple thing to do to contribute to a better environment is to label your packaging with the recycling symbol and tell the consumer how the packaging should be sorted. For example, an aluminium can bottle with plastic lid: “Remove the cap from the bottle and recycle the lid as plastic and the can as metal packaging”.
Are empty spray cans are sorted as metal packaging?
Spray cans are mostly made of metal and are therefore treated as a metal package. However, a can that is not completely empty must be submitted for safe disposal at the recycling center as it goes under hazardous waste.
Lacquer and plastic parts are sorted out or burned in the process. BOV parts and larger spray caps also work in metal recycling.
In 2017, 38 600 tonnes of metal packaging (excluding deposit soda cans) were added to the Swedish market. 32 400 tonnes were recycled, resulting in a recycling rate of 84%.
- Aluminum recycling reduces energy use by 95% compared to virgin production.
- The corresponding figure for steel is 75%.
- If all metal caps are recycled in Sweden, the recycled material would suffice for 2,200 new cars each year.
An easy way to make a big difference
Metals can be recycled as an infinate number of times without deteriorating the quality significantly. Metal production involves a great environmental impact and by reusing the metal that has already been mined, we can reduce this.
If we recycle the metal, we also don't need to deposit it and the waste mountains, and toxic substances that leak out of them, decrease. Therefore, it is important to recycle all metal, even small parts such as caps and lids.
Metal packaging that has been placed in the containers for packaging recycling goes to a collection facility where they are merged before further transport to a sorting plant. The metal is manually sorted to remove brass, copper and rough scrap. The scrap that goes further is ground to smaller pieces and these then pass large magnets that remove all magnetic material. A vortex separator sorts out the non-magnetic materials. The sorted material is pressed to bales and sent to recycling facilities for further processing. The steel constitutes about 80% of the waste and the aluminum 20%.
The steel scrap is melted in electric arc furnaces. The scrap is melted together with lime, which removes pollutants, using electricity.
Aluminum is melted below 700 degrees Celsius. Into the furnace 28 tons of scrap is loaded and 22 tons of liquid aluminum comes out.
Environmentally friendly packaging - does it work?
It works. Below is a list of things that you can consider in order to make your product more environmentally friendly.
1. Label the cans
Label the cans with recycling symbol and sorting information. In this way, you help consumers to dispose used products properly. If the metal is sorted, it can be used again and again, thus reducing the environmental impact of the packaging. For example, "The lid is sorted as plastic packaging and the empty can as metal packaging. If the can is not completely emptied, it is sorted as hazardous waste."
2. Use recycled products
Use recycled plastic or plastic adapted for recycling to details such as lids. See the summary of plastic packaging for more information.
3. Let the can be uncoloured
If you want to be really devoted, you can skip coloring the cans. If you do not dye the can, less paint and less energy is used to make the paint dry. Just print the necessary information on the cans.