Aluminum Recycling: Benefits and Challenges

By Rachel Grubbe

Every year a whopping 200 billion aluminum cans are produced for beer and soda, which is about 6,700 cans per second. But, only around half of all aluminum cans in American are recycled. United States aluminum recycling hardly even compares with other countries. Both Japan and Brazil recover over 80 percent of all aluminum produced. The aluminum cans that do not get recycled are just waste. The oceans are already filled with pollutants, and landfills are quickly reaching capacity.

We can do better!

Aluminum is an incredible material for beverage packaging. It is significantly lighter than glass, so shipping aluminum cans is more energy efficient. In fact, aluminum is considered the most efficient packaging material for shipping. And, aluminum recycling saves 95 percent of energy used to create new cans! Aluminum cans are also 100 percent recyclable, and can be returned to the shelf in only 60 days!

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Alcoa was been involved in aluminum recycling since the 1960’s and is always trying to be more sustainable. Last year Alcoa recycled 382,000 metric tons of scrap, and reduced energy usage by 5.7 percent. Alcoa also operates with 75 percent renewable energy!


But, Alcoa isn’t immune to sustainability related challenges.

The demand for aluminum is up 5 percent from last year. It is challenging for a companies to remain sustainable when consumer demand is so high. The industry needs to expend more resources to meet the high levels of demand. Increased production means increased energy usage, as well as waste creation. According to the 2017 Sustainability report, Alcoa is currently equip to manage the increase in demand, but still considers this a challenge the company will face now and in years to come.

Challenge yourself, this month can you recycle every aluminum can you use?