Benefits of Aluminum Can Recycling    

Aluminum can recycling provides many environmental, economic and community benefits to individuals, communities, organizations, companies and industries.

Environmental Benefits

Facts about Aluminum Recycling

Source: The Aluminum Association


Cans For Habitat

Aluminum Association 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:

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

  1. Can1Cup Forming — The process starts with an aluminum coiled sheet which is fed through a press that punches out shallow cups.
  2. Can2Redrawing & 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.
  3. Can3Trimming — Cans are spun as a cutting tool trims the rough shell from the inside.
  4. Can4Cleaning — The cans are cleaned and pre-treated for decoration and inside coating.
    1. Pre-clean with water rinse
    2. Clean with commercial cleaner
    3. Cold water rinse
    4. Conditioning
    5. Cold water rinse
    6. Deionized water rinse
    7. Drying
  5. Can5Printing & 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.
  6. Can6Bottom Varnishing — Cans are conveyed past an applicator that applies protective varnish to the bottom.
  7. Can7Baking — Cans wind through a conveyor in an oven to dry the printing.
  8. Can8Inside Spraying — A specially selected coating is sprayed on the inside of the cans.
  9. Can9Baking — Cans are conveyed through a tunnel oven that bakes and cures the inside coating.
  10. Can10Necking and Flanging — Cans are necked-in at the top to reduce can diameter and flanged to accept the end.
  11. Can11Light Tester — Clean cans are cycled through a light tester that detects pin holes and rejects defective cans…
  12. Can12Palletizing — After final inspection cans are palletized for shipments to the customer . . .


  1. End1Stamping — Ends are stamped out of pre-coated aluminum coil. Compound is added to assure a perfect seal between can and end at the customer’s plant.
  2. End2Rivet Making, Scoring and Tabbing — Ends are fed through a high precision press where rivet making, scoring, and tabbing occur in consecutive operations.
  3. End3Shipping — 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!