Aluminum Can-Do Attitude

aluminum cans crushed for recycling

Who doesn’t have a bunch of aluminum cans lying around their house? Since their introduction to consumers in 1959, they have steadily grown to be the most sustainable drink container. You can quickly chill them, stack them, and hopefully, recycle them. Since they are the most recycled beverage holder, and contain around 70% recycled material, they are the most valuable item in your recycling bin.

Merchandisers love them because they offer long-term preservation benefits. Aluminum cans create 100% protection against light, moisture and oxygen. They are packaging that is tamper-resistant, which helps to put the consumer’s mind at ease. Not only are foods and drinks packaged this way, but also paint and aerosol products. There are literally thousands of products that come in aluminum cans, and they should all be turned in to an aluminum recycling center near you!

They are also becoming incredibly lightweight. Today’s average aluminum can weighs less then a half ounce. They don’t rust and can withstand pressures of up to 90 lbs. per share inch. The market continues to grow with the new energy drinks that usually come in 8 ounce cans. Many microbrew companies have switched to aluminum, as it offers a higher quality, since it doesn’t expose its contents to light or oxygen.

The Coors Brewing Company is often credited with creating the first 12 ounce beer can, introducing it on January 22, 1959. And since then, the growth has been remarkable. Obviously, it has been spurred on by the popularity of soda products. The Coca-Cola Company was using cans around the same time. The world loves its soda and beer. Worldwide, roughly 200 billion cans are used every year. If you’re doing the math, that’s about 6,700 cans per second, which is enough to go around the planet every 17 hours.

New vs Recycled Aluminum

The energy to produce aluminum is more than any other precious metal on the planet; 2% of the world’s energy is used to produce it. It only takes roughly 5% of that allotted energy to produce aluminum from recycled aluminum. So, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t be recycling it. The scary truth is that Americans alone throw away nearly $1 billion worth of aluminum cans every year. Perhaps having one too many beers or sodas is the culprit!

However, recycling cans seems to be on the rise. In 2013, 1.72 billion lbs. of used aluminum cans were recycled; that comes to about 60.2 billion cans. The energy that this saved could fuel more than a million cars for a full year. The ability to recycle over and over again, creates a high value for the material, as compared to packaging like glass and plastic. It’s known as a closed loop recycling process, and makes it economically and environmentally advantageous.

So, if you’re sitting here reading this, sipping a cold one, or sucking down a Red Bull, when you’re finished with it, put it in your recycling container. If you don’t have one, it’s insanely easy to make one. Heck, just adding a bag under your kitchen sink is all it really takes. And while you’re at it, invest in a can crusher because they make can recycling both easy and fun. Who doesn’t love crushing cans? Then, when you’ve got enough of them, bring them down to your nearest aluminum can recycling center, and get some cash for them. Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.