All aluminium and steel materials can be recycled in kerbside recycling, including cans, aerosols, empty and dry paint tins, aluminium foil and pie trays. I was pretty chuffed to find out the alfoil is recyclable, given that cling wrap is off the zero-waste living list.
Recycling aluminium and steel materials is seriously important. This is because of the huge energy demands (and hence greenhouse gas impacts) of ore metal mining and metal refining and smelting. In Australia, most smelters have their own coal-based power stations just to supply the enormous power demands of metal smelting.
Clean Up Australia1 published these stats about aluminium and steel cans:
- Producing 20 aluminium cans from recycling takes the same amount of energy as producing 1 aluminium can from raw materials
- Only 70% of aluminium cans and 41% of steel cans bought annually in Australia are recycled
- Enough steel is sent to Australian landfill each year to make 40,000 fridges
Aluminium and steel are separated at recycling plants, broken down or shredded into small chips before being melted and cast into ingots. Steel cans (also commonly called tin cans) are actually a mixture of steel and tin, which are separated through a series of chemical and electrical steps to separate, purify and recover the steel and tin.
Keep in mind that some things can’t be placed in kerbside recycling: gas bottles, batteries, wire, scrap iron or tin, cutlery or white goods. These things, however, can be recycled at a resource recovery centre. The closest to West End is at Willawong.
Willawong Resource Recovery Centre will also accept the following waste for recycling: aluminium, electronic waste, LPG bottles, mobile phones, oils (including used engine oil), paints and white good and appliances.
Willawong is about 16 km south of West End. I’ve labelled a milk crate in my garage with a list of things that can be recycled at Willawong, and I’ll aim to go out once a year or so.