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Aluminum Can Recycling

Aluminum cans make up a large percentage of the over 1.5 million tons of waste that the world accumulates each year. With the average American consuming approximately 380 cans of soda per year, more than 100 billion cans being consumed annually in the United States alone.  Sure, tossing your empty soda can into the trash after lunch may not seem like a big deal to some people, but last year this daily routine resulted in nearly 60 billion cans ending up in our nation’s landfills.

Recycling aluminum is a great way to reduce waste accumulation in the United States. One of the greatest features of aluminum can recycling is that the amount of times that aluminum can be recycled is virtually endless.  Aluminum is a 100% recyclable material, and with a highly efficient turnaround process recycled aluminum can be back on the shelf within 60 days of being recycled.  Aluminum recycling is also a very energy efficient process with the entire procedure only consuming 5% of the energy that is needed to produce new aluminum products.

In addition to decreasing the amount of landfill waste that is accumulated each year, aluminum recycling can also reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from aluminum smelting, lower the risk of acid rain, and help prevent water sources from becoming contaminated with harmful pollutants.  Aluminum recycling alone can divert 1.7 billion pounds of waste from landfills on a yearly basis. Aluminum smelting, part of the process to manufacture new aluminum products, is responsible for 14.1% of greenhouse gases emitted each year.  These greenhouse gases, like nitrogen oxide, contribute to acid rain and smog.  Aluminum recycling is also responsible for 97% less water pollution than producing new aluminum products.

Another key benefit to aluminum recycling is that it greatly reduces energy consumption.   The amount of energy saved from aluminum recycling is realized as soon as that single can is recycled. Recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours.  For each pound of aluminum cans that are recycled, Americans can save the equivalent of 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity.  For every ton of aluminum that is recycled, the equivalent of 2,350 gallons of gasoline would be saved.  If all Americans participated in aluminum can recycling, they could save nearly $3 billion worth of energy every year.

The amount of energy that could potentially be saved with aluminum recycling is amazing.  By simply taking a few extra seconds to throw aluminum cans into a recycle bin instead of the trash, you could be helping the environment in multiple ways.  Aluminum can recycling is just one type of recycling that can create big differences. 


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