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Aluminium recycling is the process by which aluminium can be reused in products after its initial production. The process involves simply melting the metal, which is far less expensive and energy intensive than creating aluminium based products from the ore.
Aluminium is usually recycled in the following basic way:
- In the case of products like aluminium drink cans, the cans are shredded and ground into small pieces.
- The small pieces are then melted in a furnace to produce molten aluminium (by the end of this stage the recycled aluminium is indistinguishable from virgin aluminium and so further processing is identical for both). Some minor adjustments to the actual composition of the final product is required to eliminate impurities and to conform the recycled aluminium to the proper amalgam from which different materials are manufactured, including slightly different compositions for can bodies and lids.
- The molten aluminium is then poured into molds to create large ingots.
- The ingots are then forced through rollers to create sheets of aluminium of whatever thickness is required for the product the metal will be used in.