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How Recycling Aluminum Cans Works

Garbage and Recycling
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When it comes to recycling aluminum cans, there is a full process that must take place prior to the can actually being considered recycled. There are several stages of the process, that move rather quickly because a can slated for recycling is usually back on shelves in its new form within 60 days.

The Process of Recycling Aluminum Cans

The first phase of the process is a no-brainer – it is the collection phase. Whenever you drop off a can into a recycling receptacle, it will be collected on a certain day of the week. Since the cans are aluminum and there are no varying grades of aluminum (as there are with plastic) there is no need to sort the cans. They simply are taken over by the truckload to the recycling center.

This leads to the second phrase- the transport phase. On the recycling trucks that pick them up, the cans are taken over to a regional scrap processing plant. While at the plant, the cans are crushed and bound to form 1200 pound groups. Prior to the aluminum being placed into a random 1200 pound group, it is shredded completely. All labeling that was originally on the can from the manufacturer is literally melted off. The metal is also melted down and then mixed with new aluminum in order to make an evened out sheet of metal. If the aluminum is being reformed into a can, then the metal is coiled and sent to a can maker; however if the metal is being used for another purpose, then the newly recycled sheet of metal will be put aside.

The process may definitely seem easy, but the trick is in recycling the metal effectively. The quick turnaround is due in part to how quickly the cans are collected, transported, crushed down and melted. These steps are crucial when recycling a can. Aluminum cans are not merely just a crush and go type of situation. The cans are literally reduced to scrap metal and then it is with the combination of the other new aluminum that the recycled portion of the can can be infused to create something altogether new.

For more information on recycling aluminum cans and how you can arrange recycling pickup and do your part to help the environment, you should contact your local Department of Public Works. They, or a local recycling company, can give you a better idea of how to go about recycling aluminum cans in your area.

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