Benefits of Aluminum Can Recycling
Aluminum can recycling provides many environmental, economic and community benefits to individuals, communities, organizations, companies and industries.
- Recycling aluminum cans saves precious natural resources, energy, time and money all for a good cause helping out the earth, as well as the economy and local communities.
- Aluminum cans are unique in that in 60 days a can is recycled, turned into a new can and back on store shelves.
- Aluminum is a sustainable metal and can be recycled over and over again.
- In 2003, 54 billion cans were recycled, saving the energy equivalent of 15 million barrels of crude oil America’s entire gas consumption for one day.
Facts about Aluminum Recycling
- Discovered in the 1820s, aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth.
- Over 50% of the aluminum cans produced are recycled.
- Aluminum is a durable and sustainable metal: 2/3 of the aluminum ever produced is in use today.
- Every minute of everyday, an average of 113,204 aluminum cans are recycled.
- Making new aluminum cans from used cans takes 95 percent less energy then
making a can from "new" aluminum
- Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours.
- In 1972, 24,000 metric tons of aluminum can were recycled. In 1998, the amount increased to over 879,000 metric tons.
Source: The Aluminum Association
Cans For Habitat
Cans for Habitat is a national partnership between The Aluminum Association and Habitat for Humanity International that began in August of 1997. Money earned from recycled aluminum cans is used to build decent, affordable housing with families nationwide. A network of Habitat affiliates, local businesses, recycling centers and community organizations make every can count by recycling aluminum cans to help build homes. Below are some fun facts about the Cans for Habitat program:
- There are currently more than 600 Cans for Habitat affiliates participating in the program.
- To date, approximately 11.3 million pounds of aluminum cans have been recycled - an equivalent of $4 million dollars raised by and for Habitat affiliates as part of the Cans for Habitat program. That equates to 88 houses!
- If every American recycled one can today, Habitat could build 56 homes tomorrow.
- Americans recycled $800 million worth of cans in 2003 - just one percent of that figure could build 160 Habitat for Humanity homes! Every can really does count!
For more information on how you can participate in the Cans for Habitat program and make a difference in your community, please visit the links below. Join our network and help make every can count!
Cans for Habitat Habitat for Humanity International
History of Aluminum Cans
The development of the “can” originated in Napoleon’s time around the early 1800s; however, the use of aluminum in beverage containers did not debut until 1965.
How Cans are Made
Cup Forming The process starts with an aluminum coiled sheet which is fed through a press that punches out shallow cups.
Redrawing & Ironing Cups are fed into an ironing press where successive rings redraw and iron the cup and reduce sidewall thickness to get a full length can. The bottom is domed to obtain strength required to withstand internal pressure.
Trimming Cans are spun as a cutting tool trims the rough shell from the inside.
Cleaning The cans are cleaned and pre-treated for decoration and inside coating.
- Pre-clean with water rinse
- Clean with commercial cleaner
- Cold water rinse
- Cold water rinse
- Deionized water rinse
Printing & Varnishing Cans are rolled against a rubber cylinder to print up to four colors simultaneously, then moved to another station where a clear protective overvarnish is applied.
Bottom Varnishing Cans are conveyed past an applicator that applies protective varnish to the bottom.
Baking Cans wind through a conveyor in an oven to dry the printing.
Inside Spraying A specially selected coating is sprayed on the inside of the cans.
Baking Cans are conveyed through a tunnel oven that bakes and cures the inside coating.
Necking and Flanging Cans are necked-in at the top to reduce can diameter and flanged to accept the end.
Light Tester Clean cans are cycled through a light tester that detects pin holes and rejects defective cans…
Palletizing After final inspection cans are palletized for shipments to the customer . . .
Stamping Ends are stamped out of pre-coated aluminum coil. Compound is added to assure a perfect seal between can and end at the customers plant.
Rivet Making, Scoring and Tabbing Ends are fed through a high precision press where rivet making, scoring, and tabbing occur in consecutive operations.
Shipping Ends are bagged and placed on skids for shipment to the customer.
How Is An Aluminum Can Recycled?
Beverages packaged in aluminum cans are purchased by millions of
consumers around the world each day. They pop the top, hear that
familiar hiss and down their favorite drink. Where does that can go, after you toss it into the nearest recycling bin?
- Two out of every three cans produced in the United States begin the recycling process either at local recycling centers, community drop-off sites, charity collection sites, reverse vending machines or curbside pick-up spots.
- Aluminum cans from these sources are then gathered at large, regional scrap
processing companies. There, they condense the cans into 1,200-pound bales and ship them off to aluminum companies for melting.
- At the aluminum companies, the condensed cans are shredded, crushed and stripped of their inside and outside decorations via a burning process. Then, the potato chip-sized pieces of aluminum are loaded into melting furnaces, where the recycled metal is blended with new, virgin aluminum.
- The molten aluminum is then poured into 25-foot long ingots that weigh over 30,000 pounds. The ingots are fed into rolling mills that reduce the thickness of the metal from 20-plus inches to sheet that is about 10/1,000 of an inch thick.
- This metal is then coiled and shipped to can makers, who produce can bodies (the side of a can is the same thickness as a human hair!) and lids. They, in turn, deliver cans to beverage companies for filling.
- The new cans (stocked with your favorite canned beverages, of course) are then ready to return to store shelves in as little as 60 days, only to go through the entire recycling process again!