Aluminum Recycling Key Terms

Get involved with aluminum recycling by becoming familiar with the language of the industry

Aluminum is Earth's most abundant metallic element, making up about seven percent of the earth's surface. It is a sustainable metal, meaning it can be recycled infinitely. Used aluminum beverage cans are the most recycled item in the U.S., but you can recycle gutters, siding, storm window frames, and other aluminum products as well. Aluminum recycling in the U.S. has been common practice since the early 1900s and has become of great benefit to the community, the economy, and the environment. Many projects have been developed to raise consumer awareness of the benefits of aluminum recycling. Before getting involved with these programs or starting your own recycling program, you should become familiar with the language of industry. You can begin with these basic terms:

Ferrous and non-ferrous

Ferrous metals originate from or contain iron. Steel (including alloys such as stainless steel) is the most common of the ferrous metals. Non-ferrous metals do not contain iron and use less energy when they are recycled. Aluminum is a non-ferrous metal.

Base metals

A base metal is any metal that will corrode or rust when heated in air. Aluminum is included in the base metals.

Aluminum Killed Steel

Steel deoxidized with aluminum is referred to as Aluminum Killed Steel. Adding aluminum to the steel while it is being processed reduces the oxygen content. This prevents a negative reaction from occurring between the carbon and the oxygen during solidification.

Aluminum dross and saltcake

Aluminum dross is the impurities or wastes recovered from aluminum melting operations. Saltcake is a hazardous waste consisting of salt and aluminum dross. It is a byproduct of melting aluminum wastes.

UBC scraps

UBC scraps are used beverage cans. UBC scraps can be placed in four categories - shredded, densified, baled, and briquetted. Loose or uncrushed cans are also considered UBC scraps.
California Integrated Waste Management Board speaks about the different categories of UBC scraps.

Aluminum nodules

Aluminum nodules are remnants of aluminum wire recovered from chopping or shredding aluminum.

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