Metals are extremely useful for our daily activities. But the process of finding, extracting and refining metals can damage our environment. Furthermore, we live in an age where radioactive metals are widely used. These highly reactive metals combine to give off powerful energy which can be used in industry and for military weapons. The radioactive emissions from these devices can have a devastating effect on our environment.
When metals are extracted from the ground the vegetation and soil covering the deposit are removed. Sometimes a new road is needed to access the site. These actions can cause erosion, destroy wildlife habitats and impair the natural beauty of an area. Aquatic life in nearby water sources may also be affected.
By their nature, metals are strong and resistant to corrosion. Scrap metal is therefore a serious waste product. It spoils the natural beauty of a landscape. Abandoned cars are a particular problem. Mercury used in car head lamps and antilock braking systems can release toxic chemicals into the environment, causing harm to human health and wildlife.
Metal is a valuable material and consequently waste metal is rarely deposited in landfill waste sites. Instead this strong and hard-wearing material is reused or recycled again and again. Scrap metal companies have licences that allow them to deposit and store metal in a safe manner. This helps to prevent toxic chemicals from being released into the environment.
Recycling metal saves natural resources, uses less energy than the mining process and reduces air and water pollution. Scrap metal recycling is well developed throughout the world. Scrap metal is commonly mixed with ‘new’ metal to make new products, such as in the steel-making process
What you can do
Many metal items in your home can be reused or recycled. Recycling aluminium tins and cans is one way that you can help to save energy and conserve the world’s natural resources. Old computers and other electrical equipment can also be reused. Why don’t you ask about recycling schemes in your local area?
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