ALUMINUM RECYCLING PROCESS
Millions of consumers purchase aluminum beverage cans each day. These same cans are either discarded or recycled. The aluminum recycle process is highly efficient and beneficial to both consumers and processors. Because of aluminum’s pliability, strength, and resistance to corrosion, the material continues to be a valued commodity in several markets.
In as little as 60 days, your used can moves through the following process.
1. Used cans are collected or dropped off at local centers, charities, or other recycling receptacle.
2. Used cans may be separated from other recyclable materials by an intermediate processing company, which uses balers to prepare the cans for shipment to a larger processing company.
3. Large processing companies then collect the used cans and compress them into dense cubes or bales, which are then shipped to the aluminum companies.
4. Once used cans arrive at the aluminum companies, they are shredded, crushed, and burned in order to clean the cans of color and branding.
5. The recycled aluminum is then combined with new aluminum in a large furnace.
6. The combined, melted aluminum is poured into large ingot molds.
7. Rolling mills then press the ingots into large, thin sheets of aluminum.
8. The sheets of aluminum are shipped to can makers, who re-shape the aluminum back into the familiar shape of a soda can.
9. The cans are finally shipped to beverage merchants for filling.
ALUMINUM FACTS AND BENEFITS
It takes 95 percent less energy to recycle a can than it does to create one from virgin materials.
Aluminum cans are the most recyclable beverage container.
Aluminum, generating the most revenue, is the most valued material of curbside collection companies.
Aluminum is highly resilient and can be recycled an innumerable amount of times.
Water pollution decreases by 97 percent when creating beverage cans out of recycled aluminum.
Industry demand for aluminum continues to increase because of the material’s strength and lightweight properties.
Aluminum is also used by the construction, electrical, and machinery markets.
Aluminum recycling earns consumers close to $1 billion per year.
The recycling of aluminum benefits many charitable organizations that collect beverage cans from individual consumers and use the deposit funds for small projects.
ENSURE ALUMINUM RECYCLING
Even with the implementation of select laws banning the disposal of aluminum at landfills, recovery of disposed aluminum could still be improved.
Increase the availability of curbside pick-up or drop-off locations. Convenient provision of these services and sites should ensure recycling.
Promote the education and action of local and state governments. Relevant studies of the amount of disposed aluminum could increase awareness and lead to more available recycling facilities for consumers.
Encourage consumers to recycle aluminum using “pay as you throw” collection systems. With immediate and convenient payment to the consumer, these systems provide a high incentive to recycle.
Focus recycling education and efforts to local business and multi-family units. These locations have a higher volume of general waste and targeting recycling efforts here would play a large part in reducing disposed aluminum.
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