Inventive Materials: Aluminium

Our new exhibition, The Creative Circle, celebrates the clever ingenuity of designers, makers and manufacturers who are responding to the concept of a circular economy, where different materials are maintained within the global economy for as long as possible through reuse or repair.

Aluminium has been recycled in the UK since the early twentieth century. With today’s technology, aluminium and its alloys can be melted and recast repeatedly without any loss in quality. Recycling reduces emissions and demand on landfill sites, as well as saving raw materials and energy.

Did you know that every year around 9.591 billion aluminium drink cans are produced in the UK? In fact, it is estimated that every household in the UK consumes around 340 aluminium drink cans every year.

Photo by Evgeny Karchevsky on Unsplash

Fortunately, enjoying your favourite canned soft drink can still reduce waste. 75% of drinks cans in the UK are recycled into new drinks cans in a process called closed loop recycling, as old cans go in and the metal which makes new cans comes out. Used drinks cans, if recycled, can be back on a supermarket shelf as new cans in just 60 days. If all the aluminium cans sold were recycled there would be around 14 million fewer dustbins emptied into landfill sites every year!

In our exhibition the Trumpet Coat Stand, made by Danish architect duo Space Copenhagen, uses recycled aluminium. 70% of the aluminium used by the Stand’s manufacturer Mater is made from recycled old pipes, tubing and other aluminium waste.

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