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Why Aluminium Is The Eco-Friendly Material Of The Past, Present And Future.
“Reduce, reuse, recycle.”
We’ve all heard this phrase before. It’s the reminder to limit the quantities of natural resources we use, to make an effort to repurpose material objects as many times as possible and to dispose of things in the most environmentally-friendly manner if they are no longer fit for purpose. But…in a world defined by behaviours of consumerism and mass consumption, following this advice is sometimes difficult. Fortunately, things don’t need to be quite this hard. We’re actually all able to make more conscientious decisions about how our lives impact the environment, simply by changing the raw materials upon which we rely every day. The answer? Aluminium!
Not only is it in plentiful supply (it’s the third most abundant element in the world), it also has an impressive range of inherent qualities and characteristics which make it ideally suited for use in applications and situations of all types. Being pliable, strong, resistant to corrosion, lightweight, highly durable and aesthetically-pleasing, aluminium is an excellent choice for projects in aviation, construction, architecture, interior and exterior lighting, retail spaces, transport and electronics (to name just a few)! Yes, it’s one of the most multi-purpose materials available and adds value to every aspect of a design whether it’s in terms of cost, visuals, logistics or…as is the focus of this article…the environment.
Aluminium offers the best of both worlds. Not only is it a third of the weight of steel, but it’s also incredibly strong, durable and resistant to corrosion. But what do these qualities mean in practice? Firstly, the fact that aluminium weighs a mere 2.7g per cm³ means that it costs considerably less to transport than other heavier materials. Using aluminium as the main construction material enables designers to reduce the overall price tag attached to a product. Secondly, the inherent strength and durability of aluminium mean that it can withstand high levels of usage in challenging environments without any degradation in quality. Enabling the creation of such long-lasting structures, solutions and products, aluminium greatly reduces the amount that users have to spend on replacements and repairs. These features benefit the environment as well, however. By being so robust, smaller quantities of raw materials are needed long-term meaning that less energy is used in mining, processing, transporting and installing.
Using Less Energy.
Trends in energy usage show that globally, buildings account for approximately 40% of the world’s demand. This energy is used in both the construction and operation of buildings whether it’s a commercial, residential, educational or retail space. Thankfully, aluminium can help us to reduce this demand. Not only is it infinitely recyclable, but the process of recycling aluminium also uses just 5% of the energy required to mine it in its primary form. Moreover, 75% of the aluminium ever produced is still in circulation today meaning that large amounts of energy have already been saved! Year on year, by recycling and reusing aluminium, we save over 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. If this was allowed to enter the earth’s atmosphere it would contribute greatly to global warming and act as a catalyst for the occurrence of natural disasters.
Even though we come up against obstacles when trying to lead environmentally-friendly lives, the ‘throw-away’ mentality is fast becoming increasingly unpopular. This means that everyone from small start-ups through to big-name brands needs to give themselves a fresh coat of green paint and enable their customers to make purchases that help preserve the planet’s ecosystems for future generations. Thankfully, aluminium is an endlessly recyclable resource. In fact, products that are manufactured using aluminium can be melted down when they are no longer required and re-formed into new products that serve the varying needs of different markets. What does this mean in practice? Crucially, it means that brands are able to ease the consciences of their customers by making them feel confident in the knowledge that their purchases won’t have a negative impact on the environment. Ultimately, integrating aluminium into a business is an easy yet effective way to communicate that you are committed to creating a smarter, more sustainable world.