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What is recycled metal?

Beverage cans, caps, aluminum, and metals are part of our daily lives and our waste. Fortunately, some are part of the recycling chain and can find new life. Since we offer the printing of art photographs in Chromaluxe on metal, this subject is of particular concern to us. How can we put less pressure on our geological resources?

Dripping by Mieke Boynton

Back to basics

We have previously mentioned the day of the overshoot and the fact that any object transformed for the use of man comes out of the planetary resources. Pure metals such as aluminum, iron, copper and many others come from the earth's crust and make up many everyday products. Why is this problematic? On the one hand, because our mineral reserves are not inexhaustible. On the other hand, because traditional and new metals, such as lithium, are increasingly strained by technological advances.

Where are our geological resources? Among the raw materials classified in voltage by the European Union in 2020 we find cobalt, lead, tin, iron ore, aluminum and copper. These figures obviously depend on the evolution of our uses worldwide.

At the other end of the metal life cycle, metals are not equal once they find their way into nature. A can will take up to 100 years to degrade and a 50 year old tin can. The steel will last between 5 to 10 years because it will rust quickly. But it's not just a matter of time, it will also have to take into account the harmful effect of the metal on the environment, from the contamination of soils to the injuries caused to animals who ingest them by mistake. In sum, recycling metal helps both to limit the volume of metal waste and to reduce the stress on planetary resources.

Especially since recycling metal has a lower energy footprint than extracting it. 95% energy savings is estimated in aluminum recycling, which in some countries such as Indonesia brings additional income to people who collect cans to resell them to intermediaries for recycling centers. Note that in one tonne of recycled metal, it is estimated 1.78 tonnes of CO2 avoided.

Halycon by Ryan Marais

An endless process

“Nothing is lost, everything is transformed,” Antoine Lavoisier

When we talk about recycled metal, it is mainly steel and aluminum that are subject to recycling. Unlike other recyclable materials, some metals, such as aluminum, can be recycled in a loop. That is to say, the cycle of compression, crushing, rolling, melting and reshaping can be repeated as many times as necessary. In an ideal world, the metal cycle would therefore be a perfect loop.

It should be noted here that flexible kitchen packaging such as paper and aluminum trays do not enter into this process and cannot be recycled.

Chromaluxe xplorar

Recycled metal, how does it work?

After they have passed through the sorting bins and the recycling centre, what happens to the metal waste? First, a magnetic machine will separate the steel from the aluminum and the high iron metals from the others. Then the waste is compressed into blocks, crushed, melted down and molded into various shapes to be put to a new use.

It must be said that recycled metal is a question of volume: 660 aluminum cans are equivalent to a bicycle!

Chromaluxe, a story that is here to stay

Since the beginning, X-Plorar has offered fine art photographs on the print medium ChromaLuxe. The sublimation process infuses the image on a sheet of metal and we obtain a print quality faithful to the original colors. Chromaluxe allows images to be displayed outdoors or indoors without losing rendering: the colors are resistant to the fading effect of the sun, humidity and minor everyday accidents (scratches and splashes).

Recycle or choose sustainability

Recycled metal is therefore a good choice for any art photo enthusiast who wants to reduce their impact on planetary resources without compromising on the quality of artistic photos. We are delighted to offer this sustainable format, which is sure to delight generations to come.

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