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  • Where to Recycle Aluminum Cans

    It’s easy to recycle aluminum cans and that’s good – because they are everywhere.

    If you’re debating how to buy beverages, aluminum tends to be a safe bet. Aluminum cans are versatile and a more sustainable choice since they’re less breakable than glass and not made from petroleum like plastic. From soda to beer cans, there’s no reason to throw them into the trash. I mean, this one guy in Texas decided to decorate his house with 50,000 beer cans, boxes and bottles in the Houston Beer Can House.

    So let’s review more fun facts about recycling aluminum.

    aluminum can recycling

    According to World Counts, we use about 200 million aluminum cans a year but other estimates rank it has high as 80,000,000,000 cans annually. Although we use a ton of aluminum cans, the good news is that they’re the most recycled item in the US. – making up for less than 1% of the waste stream. (Good work for recycling right, readers!) But even as the lowest amount of trash, make sure to recycle your cans – this can add up to 40 billion cans that still end up in a landfill.

    Aluminum is the most abundant element on Earth but it still takes massive amounts of energy to produce many cans each day. Beyond cans, other types of aluminum can be recycled – ranging from siding, lawn furniture, car parts and more.

    Luckily, aluminum works great as a recycled material. A recycled aluminum can be reused almost indefinitely because the material is so sturdy. The used aluminum can be recycled and back on store shelves in as few as 60 days! Check the Recycling Revolution for more cool facts about recycling aluminum.

    How to Recycle Aluminum Cans

    It’s really easy to recycle aluminum cans. Aluminum cans can simply go into your regular single-stream recycling and picked up curbside on your recycling day.

    Additionally, many material recycling centers take aluminum cans. Some estimates are that aluminum cans will be paid $.30 per pound or about half of the current value. The price for aluminum cans also can be negotiated. Although it’s not gold, you can even earn money back for aluminum cans if it’s collected and brought in bulk. In Philadelphia, check out Nicholas Scrap Metal, Pasco Metal Recycling, or M. Dunn Recycling.

    If you’re lucky enough to be in a state that still has bottling bills, you can make almost $.10 per can. Current states with bottle bills include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

    Should you crush aluminum cans before recycling?

    When I was younger, my dad would assign one of my chores as smashing the cans before we took them to our church for recycling. As time wore on, I became a smarter young entrepreneur and charged him a fee per can for my hard work.

    Interestingly enough, it depends on where the recycling ultimately ends up whether you’re helping to add benefits by smashing the cans, according to Recyclebank.

    If your recycling is destined for a pre-sorted facility (i.e. you bag glass, aluminum, et al separately), crushing cans saves spaces and is helpful in the process.

    However, if you’re recycling is single-stream pickup like in Philadelphia (i.e. all of your recycling goes in one bin), it’s actually more helpful to throw the full can into your recycling bin. At the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), it’s easier for the machines to sort the cans while they’re totally intact.


    Marie Bouffard

    About Marie Bouffard

    Marie is a senior at Villanova University studying communication and sustainability. She lives for hiking, camping, skiing, and any outdoor activity. Marie is a coffee addict, loves reading, and has never met a cat or dog she didn't like.

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