One of the topics covered in GCSE Science is building materials, such as metals or limestone. This is the fourth of seven quizzes on that subject and it looks specifically at our metal supplies, and making them go further through recycling.
We obtain most of our resources from the Earth's crust and these resources are limited. It is therefore important that we conserve as much as possible because when they are gone, they are gone forever. So how can we make our supplies of these resources go further? One way to conserve our resources is to recycle waste products instead of sending them to landfill sites. Some forms of recycling happen naturally, for example the carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle which allow these two important elements to be recycled.
The Earth's population is increasing faster and faster and it's important that the way we behave now does not make life difficult or impossible for future generations. This is called sustainable development and it needs to take into account the need for economic development to improve people's standards of living, but also the environment and the resources it provides for us.
Recycling is an important way of making supplies go further and in helping us achieve sustainable development. We can recycle many resources, including metals. It takes less energy to melt and remould a metal than it does to extract new metals from their ores. Aluminium is a valuable metal that melts at a relatively low temperature, making it a particularly attractive resource for recycling. However, a lot of metals that we use are mixtures of metals (alloys) and that can make them difficult to recycle.
Recycling offers many benefits but there are drawbacks too. The metal has to be collected and transported to where it is to be processed so we need to consider which metals can be recycled economically.