Guide to Aluminium Can Recycling

The demand for aluminium products is growing steadily because of their positive contribution to modern living. Aluminium finds extensive use in air, road and sea transport; food and medicine; packaging; construction; electronics and electrical power transmission.

Aluminum has a high market value and continues to provide an economic incentive to recycle it. The excellent recyclability of aluminium, together with its high scrap value and the low energy needs during recycling make aluminium lightweight solutions highly desirable.

Aluminum can is the most recycled consumer product in the world. Each year, the aluminum industry pays out more than $800 million for empty aluminum cans. Recycling aluminium cans is a closed-loop process since used beverage cans that are recycled are primarily used to make beverage cans.

Recycled aluminium cans are used again for the production of new cans or for the production of other valuable aluminium products such as engine blocks, building facades or bicycles. The latter also applies to other aluminium rigid and semi-rigid packaging such as aerosol cans, food cans, menu trays, cups, tubes, capsules and closures. In Europe about 50% of all semi-fabricated aluminium used for the production of new beverage cans and other aluminium packaging products comes from recycled aluminium.

Steps in Aluminium Recycling

Step 1: Aluminium cans are collected from recycling centers, community drop-off sites, curbside pick-up spots etc.

Step 2: Compressed into highly dense briquettes or bales at scrap processing facilities and shipped to aluminum companies for melting.

Step 3: Condensed cans are shredded, crushed and stripped of their inside and outside dyes.  The potato chip-sized pieces are loaded into melting furnaces, where the recycled metal is blended with brand new aluminum.

Step 4: Molten aluminum is converted into ingots which are fed into rolling mills that reduce the thickness to about 1/100 of an inch.

Step 5: This metal is then coiled and shipped to can manufacturers.  The cans are then delivered to beverage companies for filling.

Step 6: The new cans, filled with your favorite beverages, are then returned to store shelves in as little as 60 days … and the recycling process begins again!

 

Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of Cleantech Solutions, and an internationally-acclaimed blogger, journalist, consultant, advisor and ecopreneur. His areas of expertise includes waste management, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection, resource conservation and sustainable development.
Salman is a prolific environmental writer, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management, sustainability and conservation all over the world.
Salman can be reached on salman@cleantechloops.com.

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