Everyone drinks soda or has in the past. It is common knowledge that aluminum cans are one of the most commonly recycled materials. But, what happens to the can after it is taken from the bin?
After manufacturing, empty cans are shipped to the customer who fill it with their specific liquid product. The complete product is then sent to retail outlets, like supermarkets and convenience stores. After consumption and disposal, they are sent to a recycling plant.
At the plant, cans are placed in bails (like hay) prior to processing. Each bail is washed, shredded, and remelted at temperatures around 1,382° Fahrenheit. The melted aluminum is poured and then cooled into ingots. Each ingot contains 1 ½ million aluminum cans. The ingot can be turned into anything made out of aluminum. Examples include a window frame, car part, and of course, more cans. Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy it takes from virgin metal.
As you can see, recycling aluminum is one of the more beneficial recycling processes. It is durable and can be recycled many times before it is spent. For a more visual explanation, check out this video about the Lifecycle of an Aluminum Can.
By Alanna Scheinerman, Class of 2013