Love and an Aluminum Can

by SprinklinThoughts

Ever stop to think about an aluminum can?… I mean *really* think…

aluminum2

Click to enlarge.

An aluminum can is a container, mass produced… used to contain something else (which is also mass produced).

The aluminum is (mostly) made by strip mining the earth for an ore called bauxite… mixing the ore with chemicals and heating to about 400F (200C)… mixing the result with other chemicals and melting that at about 1832F (1000C)… lots of heat & lots of chemicals… huge 6 story vats…

aluminum1

Click to enlarge.

It takes about 4 lbs of bauxite to make one pound of aluminum… and about 6-8 Kw of energy (run a TV for about 400 hours). Making just one can uses enough power to run a laptop 11 hours.

Where does the heat come from? Where do the chemicals come from? Are they mined? With machines?

The metal is made in an electric bath using ‘stuff’. Where does all this stuff come from? How is it made?

Machines were used to mine the bauxite ore. Where did those machines come from? How were they made? More mining… more melting… by other machines… which were made…

aluminum6

Click to enlarge.

One pound of aluminum produces about 32 cans. How are the cans formed? Coils of thick aluminum are cut to form ‘disks’ which are further processed… requiring lubrication, cleaning, cutting machines… all made from what, how, using how much energy?

Once the cans are ready, they’re shipped out to be filled… with what, made out of what, processed how?

There is ink on the can… where does the ink come from? How is it made, packaged, shipped, and applied?

aluminum5

Click to enlarge.

Shipping the cans to stores… uses trucks and diesel fuel… the trucks have large rubber tires, big engines… they need maintenance… but have to be built first… more machines to mine, process, melt, form… more energy… more machines to build those machines.

All this for some aluminum cans… filled with stuff that isn’t really even that good for us…

aluminum4

Click to enlarge.

 – 1.4 million truckloads per year (2 trips?)
– 220 million cans per day
– 9 million cans per hour
= just in the USA

Americans go through between 80 and 100 billion cans per year…

Imagine 2 truckloads of cans (152,000) dumped in your backyard… every minute… of every day… non-stop.

recycled_cans

Click to enlarge.

Yes, the cans are recycled (less than 50%)… and recycling 32 cans (1 pound) saves about 4 pounds of bauxite, 4 pounds of chemicals, and 7 kWh of electricity… but even recycling means trucking, melting, energy…

If not recycled, each can will take 100-400 years to decompose.

So by now you may be wondering…

what does Love have to do with all this?

Well…

I’m wondering what kind of Love is it that does this?…

…just a thought
M

Links
It All Starts with Dirt
How Aluminum is Produced
How aluminum cans are made
How aluminum is recycled
Recycling Facts
The Benefits of Aluminum Recycling

Advertisements