With the right recycling process, you can reduce your usage while also reducing your carbon footprint.
Every year, an estimated 50 billion aluminum cans are discarded in the United States!
However, recycling them is a great way to help the environment. Recycling a single can saves enough energy to power a laptop for three hours or charge your phone for four hours.
It also saves natural resources such as coal, oil, iron ore, and others while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 14 pounds per year. This guide will teach you how to recycle cans and how to reduce your carbon footprint even further. You’ll also learn where they’re accepted, allowing you to get started right away.
What is biodegradation?
When leaves and other organic material are buried underground, biodegradation occurs naturally. Over time, microorganisms degrade this matter into carbon dioxide, methane gas, or compost elements.
Unfortunately, depending on where you are, this process can take hundreds or even thousands of years. Recycling aluminum cans is one method for saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions more quickly.
What are the benefits of aluminum cans?
Aluminum cans are almost always made from recycled aluminum in the United States.
They account for 60% of all recyclables and more than half of all beer and soda cans. Aluminum, unlike other metals, does not biodegrade and does not require mining for resources. It can also withstand temperatures in excess of 600°C while remaining lightweight and strong.
Aluminum cans are fantastic. They are relatively inexpensive to produce and can be recycled several times before losing their shape or chemical properties.
Are aluminum cans biodegradable?
No. Aluminum is not biodegradable, so it will not degrade naturally in a landfill or compost pile.
Fortunately, recycling aluminum cans reduces greenhouse gas emissions and conserves natural resources such as coal, oil, iron ore, etc.
Can aluminum be recycled infinitely?
Yes. Aluminum cans are recycled repeatedly, which means they can be used to make new aluminum cans indefinitely!
In fact, a single 500ml soda or beer can is composed of 95% recycled material. One million aluminum cans recycled saves 900 gallons of oil (used in plastic production), 17,000 gallons of water, and 3500-kilowatt hours of energy.
Does recycling aluminum cans reduce greenhouse gasses?
Yes! Every recycled can means one less coal power plant emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. Recycling aluminum is also an excellent way to conserve natural resources such as oil, iron ore, and other minerals because it is made up of 95% recycled material.
The importance of recycling cans
Recycling cans is beneficial because it conserves natural resources.
It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of energy required for manufacturing. If you throw away aluminum cans, it will take approximately 20% of their weight in fossil fuels (mainly oil) to produce new ones. This is referred to as “energy consumption” or “energy use.”
Greenhouse gas emissions are gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and contribute to climate change. Carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, nitrous oxide, ozone, and other gases are among them.
Greenhouse gases act as a blanket over our planet, trapping heat that would otherwise escape into space. Each pound of recycled steel saves up to 95% of the energy required to manufacture it from raw materials.
Cans are recycled through an industrial process known as “smelting,” which involves melting them down and producing new aluminum cans from the used ones. Another method is a chemical recycling process in which different metals in each can (such as steel and aluminum) are separated and then used to make new cans.
Just one recycled can saves up to 14 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Why use fewer cans?
The first reason we should use fewer cans is that producing so many of them if they’re just going to be thrown away is wasteful.
Aluminum can production consumes a lot of energy and resources, which has an impact on the environment.
Another reason is that recycling cans helps to save energy. Aluminum is the most recycled material on the planet, making it a popular choice for recycling programs across the country.
How you recycle cans
The first step in the “recycling” process is to separate the different types of metal in your can. Because recycling them together does not make sense or save energy, each type should be recycled separately.
Aluminum cans can be recycled in three ways:
- Collection centers: look for collection centers near you using this map. You can also check with your local government to make sure they accept aluminum cans.
- Recycling bins: if you have a lot of cans, think about asking at work or in apartment buildings where people can recycle them together when the recycling truck comes by every week.
- Store drop-off: some stores will take back and recycle empty beverage cans. These are usually located near grocery stores or convenience shops to make it easy for people.
- Packaging labels do not affect whether or not aluminum can be recycled. However, it does delay its recycling because labels need to be removed first. The labels should be peeled entirely off or taken off with a paper towel so that the glue doesn’t get on the can because it makes recycling more difficult and less efficient.
How else you can reduce the use of cans
It is best to avoid purchasing products that come in disposable packagings, such as plastic, paper, or aluminum cans. Another way to save cans is to buy fewer of them in the first place. Consider these ideas:
Instead of using disposable packaging such as plastic or aluminum cans, buy reusable products.
You can, for example, use reusable shopping bags to avoid the waste that comes from purchasing paper and plastic bags every time you go grocery shopping. If your city lacks recycling bins near public transportation stops, bring a travel mug with you, so you don’t have to buy a disposable one every time you go to the coffee shop.
Buy in bulk
You can also reduce your use of aluminum cans by purchasing bulk items such as pasta and rice, which do not come in individual packages. This method is more efficient because it reduces waste as well as packaging materials! It’s even better if you live close to a bulk food store, such as Whole Foods.
Buy products with less packaging
If you do buy packaged items, look for those with the least amount of waste and materials inside; this means purchasing items with little to no extra plastic or aluminum wrapping around them. Cereal, for example, does not need to be wrapped in any kind of cardboard box.
Buy fresh when possible
Instead of buying packaged foods like cereal, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables. They don’t need to be wrapped in anything special; simply place them in a reusable bag! Purchasing local food at a farmer’s market close to your home is another way to reduce waste because there will be no unnecessary plastic packaging.
Recycle when you can
If your municipality accepts aluminum cans in its recycling bins, try to recycle them rather than throwing them away.
This reduces the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill and is also better for the environment! If you have a lot of empty cans lying around the house, consider taking them to collection centers to be recycled rather than throwing them away.
Recycling more cans is a simple way to make a difference. You can also avoid using aluminum cans altogether, which is better for the environment and your wallet. By following these tips, you can help keep our planet clean while also saving money by purchasing items with less packaging.
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You might find something new to try on our blog soon as well! Meanwhile, please let us know if there are any other ways we can make recycling more convenient for everyone by leaving a comment below.