Part of the Cariboo Regional District’s Solid Waste Info Series:
In 2013, Encorp Pacific (the stewardship agency responsible for beverage container recycling in BC) recovered almost 5,000 tonnes of aluminum across the province. This equates to an 84 per cent recovery of aluminum beverage containers when compared to the amount sold in BC for the year. What do you think the recovery numbers are for all other metals British Columbians consume every year?
Large items such as cars and home appliances are usually recycled because they are too big for our garbage cans. What about all those smaller items that have metal components like lamps, bird feeders, extension cords, Christmas lights, tools, containers, kitchen utensils, and so on? Many of these items are routinely landfilled because they are easy to dispose of in a garbage can, and many people don’t know where to recycle them. Landfilling these materials is harmful to our environment, as well as a waste of resources, energy, and revenue.
Metals in our landfills can leach into the soil which can be harmful to the environment if not properly managed. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions is reduced substantially through the practice of recycling metal material. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries reports that recycling metal may cut greenhouse gas emissions by 300 to 500 million tons. Using scrap metal in lieu of virgin ore generates 97 per cent less mining waste and uses 40 per cent less water, according to the National Institute of Health (2012).
Metals can be recycled without losing any of their properties, which means they can be recycled over and over and over again, taking pressure off of the non-renewable resources from which they are extracted. Approximately 45 per cent of the world’s steel production, 35 per cent of the world’s aluminum, and 40 per cent of the world’s copper comes from recycled metal.
Recycling scrap metal uses less energy than manufacturing new metals from virgin ore—the estimated energy saved by using recycled metals is 95 per cent for aluminum, 90 per cent for copper, and 60 per cent for iron and steel.
Recycling metal has numerous benefits for the Canadian economy. The Canadian Association of Recycling Industry (CARI) estimates that the metal recycling industry in Canada employs 40,000 people directly and another 120,000 indirectly. When compared to the waste industry, the scrap metal recycling industry process produces 10 times the revenue and employment.
The easiest way to properly manage your small sized metal waste is to allocate a box in your house, carport, or garage to store it. Once your box is full, drop it off at your local scrap metal dealer; they may even pay you for it!
Waste wise education is delivered to students in the Cariboo Regional District; however, the CRD would like to make waste education available to everyone, as we all have the ability to change our waste handling habits for the better. For more info on Waste Wise call (250) 398-7929 or find details on WasteWise activities and events at ccconserv.org.
Join the Cariboo Regional District this year to become waste wise and make a difference. For direct access to our monthly topics “Like” us on facebook at facebook.com/caribooregion, or online at cariboord.ca, or look for our articles in your local paper.