Beyond the Bin: Aluminum Cans

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.aluminum ingots

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

4 Replies to “Beyond the Bin: Aluminum Cans”

  1. I had no idea what transpired during a recycling process. It’s great to hear that aluminum is one of the more effective recycling processes out there! I think it’s important for us to do our part and recycle what we can, especially aluminum and other metals, so that we can become more sustainable as a people.

  2. Aluminum cans could be recycled over and over again, saving energy, raw materials and waste. So collecting your cans for recycling is an important step you can take to help the environment. We should all do our share to protect the earth and its atmosphere.

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  3. ADC12 (primary aluminum) – high-quality, environmentally friendly ADC12 aluminum alloy ingot produced with primary aluminum

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