Monday, May 14, 2007

How is an Aluminum Can Recycled?

One of the easiest and most popular ways to help the environment is to recycle. Do you purchase soda pop and other beverages in cans? Those cans are made with aluminum and can be recycled. Many of you already do that, but what happens after you throw that can into the recycling bin?

A Smashing Idea!

  • Aluminum cans are picked up by your waste management company and then sent to large, regional scrap processing companies.

  • There, they smash the cans to condense them into highly dense, 30-pound briquettes or 1,200-pound bales and ship them off to aluminum companies for melting.

  • At the aluminum companies, the condensed cans are shredded, crushed and stripped of their inside and outside decorations using a burning process.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

  • Then, the small, chip-sized pieces of aluminum are loaded into melting furnaces, where temperatures are over 12000 F. The recycled metal is blended with new, virgin aluminum.

  • The molten aluminum is then poured into 25-foot long ingots that weigh over 30,000 pounds.

  • These massive blocks of aluminum are fed into rolling mills that reduce the thickness of the metal from 20-plus inches to sheet that is about 10/1,000 of an inch thick.

  • This metal is then coiled and shipped to can makers and other manufacturers who produce can bodies and lids.

  • Cans are then shipped to beverage companies for filling.

The new cans are filled with your favorite drink and then ready to return to store shelves in as little as 60 days. And the cycle starts all over again!

Today most aluminum cans contain 40% post consumer recycled aluminum! And the great thing is that aluminum can be recycled over and over again.

(Process and statistics obtained from:


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