Aluminum can recycling rate hits 57.4 percent

The Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) announced the 2009 Used Beverage Container (UBC) recycling rate at 57.4 percent. This is the highest recycling rate of any beverage container in the United States. In 2009, Americans and the aluminum industry recycled nearly 55.5 billion aluminum cans, nearly 2.3 billion more than in 2008.

“The scrap recycling industry continues to play a vital role in maintaining a steady supply of aluminum for America’s manufacturing economy while also being a strong environmental steward,” said Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. “In 2009, over 4.6 million metric tons of aluminum was processed by the United States scrap industry saving the energy equivalent of 1.3 billion gallons of gasoline. The data shows that aluminum cans continue to be a valuable recyclable commodity.”

The aluminum can is the only packaging material that more than covers the cost of collection and re-processing for itself. As the most valuable item in the consumer waste stream, it helps finance the collection and recycling of a wide range of other materials. Also, higher recycling rates ensure a steady supply of high-value recycled aluminum which provides overall waste reduction and a significantly improved environmental impact.

The highest processed receipts in five years demonstrate that the aluminum industry continues its serious commitment to recycling. This additional effort resulted in the largest year-on-year percentage increase in the past ten years, and the highest effective rate since 2000.

Through engineering and technology advancements, the can continues to become lighter while delivering the same serving size and using fewer resources – a goal of any container. There are 34.35 aluminum beverage cans to a pound.

Additional sustainability points on the environmental superiority of the beverage can include:

  • The carbon footprint for aluminum cans has been reduced 44 percent over the last 17 years.
  • Energy used to make aluminum cans has been reduced 30 percent over the last 17 years.
  • The aluminum can has a 68 percent total recycled content, the highest of any beverage package material.
  • Secondary aluminum production, which is produced from recycled beverage cans, generates 95 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than primary production.