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Did you know that you can finish your can of soda or beer, then buy another a few months later and it may be the same aluminum?
Aluminum is the only packaging material that more than covers the cost of collection and re-processing for itself. It makes sense, then, that aluminum cans are one of the most recycled containers- second only to steel cans. This means 50+ billion cans are recycled each year. That’s a lot of beer on the wall. And that’s also 97% less water pollution than producing new metal from ore.
Cans can be recycled over and over an infinite amount of times. The aluminum is shredded, melted down into sheets and still retains its quality- this is when recycling is a closed-loop process. Used aluminum cans are recycled and returned to a store shelf as a new can in as few as 60 days…
A Brief History of Cans
According to the Can Manfacturers Institute (CMI), Cliquot Club ginger ale debuted as the first canned soft drink in 1938. The first can of beer was sold in Virginia a few years earlier in 1935. It came in a steel can and required a can opener. Well it was kind of like a can opener- you had to punch two holes in the lid. One was for drinking, and the other smaller one to let air out. Can you imagine? By August of that year, Pabst Blue Ribbon had become the first major brewer to add canned beer to its regular product line. Go PBR!
So why it is so cool that aluminum cans are recycled?
Well, you’re basically using a resource that has already been extracted from the earth instead of extracting more. It is true that it takes energy to recycle, but it takes 95% less energy to make a can from recycled aluminum than from aluminum ore. Why is this? Because of the process used in the making of aluminum sheets to form the cans from ore, which is called smelting. Check out these illustrations on how aluminum cans are made.
According to the Can Manufacturers Institute, the amount of energy used to make one smelted aluminum soda can is actually equal to a can of gasoline!
The mining of the ore itself is pretty destructive, so recycling your soda cans also prevents more mining. Bauxite is processed into aluminum, and it is strip mined, or surface mined, causing environmental impact of water systems, etc. You get the picture.
Aluminum Can Recycling Ideas: Fundraising
You can also recycle aluminum cans for money. Through the Cans for Causes program, schools and other organizations are able to order bins and bin liners through the Aluminum Association for FREE. From here, you collect the money from the recycling centers and you are able to do whatever you wish with the funds you receive. To register for the program, place your bin/ bin liners order click here.
Art and Collectibles
There are also clubs for can collectors. Founded in St. Louis, members (over 5,000 of them) of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America hold “canventions” collecting vintage beer cans and other cool stuff.
Also be sure to check out the fun canmade jewelery at Can Made Crafts.
For some other crazy art, check out the gallery at Red Bull Art of Can. It’s incredible. Are there other companies that do this sort of art-vertising?