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Information about Recycling Cans

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In the popular 1976 musical, "Grease" was the word. When it comes to the recycling industry, it would be fair to say that "aluminum" is the word. Among the many interesting facts collected by the aluminum industry is this eye-opener: If you shopped only once every 60 days, the cans of vegetables, fruit and soda that you buy could very well be the recycled versions of the very same cans you previously bought. That's because it takes only 60 days to get a recycled can back in commerce after it is first brought in for recycling. Here is some additional information that highlights the importance of recycling cans:

  • Forever recyclable. Unlike some products, aluminum can be recycled forever, according to the Aluminum Association. That also means that it's easier to only buy recycled cans in the grocery store.
  • Highest recycling rate. More than 57 percent of all used cans in the United States were recycled in 2009, giving cans the highest recycling rate of any product collected or turned into recycling centers in the country. That means, according to the Aluminum Association and other groups such as the Can Manufacturers Institute, that 55.5 billion cans were turned in during 2009. The haul represented an increase of about 2.3 billion cans over 2008's figures. Although aluminum cans make up only about 20 percent of curbside recycling content, they generate about 70 percent of scrap value.
  • A recycling superhero. When comparing the manufacturing process for cans using metal ore and as opposed to the process that relies on recycled metals, recycling only requires a full 95 percent less energy. That means that the plant manufacturing the metal puts out 95 percent less greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. It also requires much less energy to produce recycled cans, as opposed to the original product. Every pound of aluminum recycled saves enough energy to produce about 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity. In a year, enough energy is saved to light Pittsburgh, Penn., for example, for six years.
  • Cash in the pocket. Although a safer planet is a pretty strong reason to recycle, there's nothing wrong with cash in the pocket. And recycling centers throughout the country pay - generally by the pound by sometimes for small amounts - for aluminum cans. The amount varies somewhat, but it isn't unusual to get between $1 and $1.50 per pound for aluminum cans. Generally speaking, that's about a penny or two for each aluminum can.

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