Based on international industry statistics, the most straightforward way to classify sources of scrap aluminum is in relation to the products in which the aluminum was used prior to becoming waste. The primary sources of aluminum scrap metal fall into 5 basic categories: automobiles, trucks and vehicles; metal building products used for construction; electric wiring and cables; electrical and electronic products; and packaging materials. Needless to say, these scrap categories are fundamental to the viability of a scrap collector and equally so to the scrap yard.
Automobiles, trucks and vehicles
The auto industry is known to be the largest user of aluminum, and as a result, probably the largest source of aluminum wastes. At the end of its “life”, a car is usually collected and disassembled, and each year it’s estimated that tens of millions of “end-of-life” vehicles are discarded. Primarily comprised of metal, cars (and trucks and buses) contain significant amounts of aluminum - amounts that are valuable enough to be mechanically separated and eventually recycled into aluminum that is as good as virgin aluminum.
Building and construction products
In countries where the auto industry doesn’t dominate the market (like western nations), the building and construction segment has become the largest consumer of aluminum. Beyond the standard, conventional building materials aluminum is used in roofing, window and doorframes, window shutters, and door handles. Industry stats estimate that during the process of building deconstruction/demolition, over 90% of the waste aluminum is salvaged, properly separated, and finally sent directly to a recycling facility for processing.
Electrical and electronic products
Electrical and electronic equipment (known throughout the industry as EEE) includes a host of articles: fridges, wash machines, stoves; small appliances like toasters and hair dryers; computers, cell phones, and calculators; radios, televisions, stereos; electric tools and sports equipment; even smoke detectors and thermostats. It’s bad news, but our personal domestic waste is currently enormous, and increasing by close to 5% each year. It’s easy, therefore, to estimate the very high and ever-growing amounts of aluminum scrap that is generated form e-waste.