Is aluminum hard to recycle?

Aluminum is one of the most recycled and recyclable materials in use today. A beverage can, door, or window frame from a recycled car is often recycled directly on itself.

Is aluminum hard to recycle?

Aluminum is one of the most recycled and recyclable materials in use today. A beverage can, door, or window frame from a recycled car is often recycled directly on itself. And this process can occur practically infinitely. It's easy to understand why so many companies fall into the trap of aluminum's environmental appeal.

An aluminum can can be converted into another aluminum can with virtually no loss in the process. Most food-grade plastics, on the other hand, are “recycled” and their quality degrades every time they are recycled again. In addition, unlike PET plastic bottles, aluminum cans can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality. So it's not surprising that aluminum is recycled at much higher rates than PET.

In North America, beverage cans contain an average of approximately 68% recycled aluminum, according to the Aluminum Association. PET bottles contain much less recycled material (approximately 10% for large beverage companies), partly because the textile industry buys large quantities of used PET. Aluminum may have a higher recycling rate than plastic, but trade-offs in transportation emissions are expected. The real breakthrough comes with reuse.

As consumer product companies seek more sustainable packaging options, some brands, especially smaller ones, are turning to aluminum as an alternative to plastic. The big draw? Some manufacturers promote aluminum as infinitely recyclable, and it undoubtedly has a much higher recycling rate in the U.S. UU. Compared to plastic, according to the U.S.

But it may not be the silver bullet for sustainability that companies have, according to industry experts. Trivium Packaging also promotes aluminum because of its circular and sustainability credentials. The manufacturer is making aluminum packaging accessible to small eco-conscious water, cleaning and personal care companies, such as ThreeMain, Rainforest Water in Costa Rica, Petal, By Humankind and Hand in Hand. Many companies that opt for aluminum packaging cite its recyclability as the main reason for the change.

They rely on the high recycling rate of the material to reduce the impact of their packaging. Melissa Avino, purchasing and production director of Heat Makes Sense, the parent company of Eva NYC, said it's easy for consumers to remove the pumps or lids from their containers and throw the aluminum can into the recycling bins next to the sidewalk. He said that plastic pumps, caps and triggers can be recycled thanks to his partnership with TerraCycle. The great attraction of aluminum for these companies is that the general population feels comfortable and familiar with aluminum recycling.

The material is the most successful recycling story in the United States, with recycling rates for cans reaching 80 percent. The infrastructure has been built, adjusted and made as efficient and accessible as possible, according to these companies. According to a report by the consulting firm Metabolic, of the approximately 90 billion aluminum cans used in the United States each year, only about half are recycled; the rest goes to landfills. Companies that are opting for aluminum packaging are addressing this problem with educational campaigns aimed at increasing the amount of aluminum that is recycled.

Eva NYC created a landing page with information about recycling. In addition, Hand in Hand uses labels with QR codes on its products that tell customers instructions on how to properly recycle them. The Aluminum Association supports this approach and aims to increase the aluminum recycling rate as much as possible. According to a Ball report, increasing the recycling rate could reduce the environmental impact related to a standard 12-ounce aluminum can by 13 percent.

While it's true that aluminum has a lot to offer compared to other materials, experts are concerned that simply switching from one single-use material to another isn't the best way to create a circular model for packaging. While aluminum cans include approximately 73 percent recycled content, some virgin material is always needed. Therefore, according to Kachook, if the manufacture of virgin aluminum has a greater environmental impact than other materials, the switch from plastic to aluminum could have unintended consequences at the beginning of the production process. Transportation also increases the greenhouse gas emission impact of aluminum compared to plastic because it is heavier.

For example, according to Ball's own life cycle assessment, a 16-ounce alumi-tek bottle, a 16-ounce standard aluminum can, and a 12-ounce aluminum can may have more global warming potential, respectively, than a standard 16.9-ounce PET bottle if transportation emissions are included. A full life cycle analysis that compares the plastic version of a product with the aluminum version would be needed for each individual company to assess the full impact, and most smaller companies don't have the resources to do so. Trivium's own white paper, which compares aluminum and plastic, is scant in detail. The evolution of delivery that Kachook talks about is moving to a reusable packaging model regardless of the material.

Companies face many challenges in taking that approach, such as establishing supply chains that can manage reverse logistics, but some combine aluminum containers with a reusable model. ThreeMain, a subscription cleaning products company that recently converted to Trivium aluminum packaging, makes its customers buy an aluminum bottle that they can refill with ThreeMain's plastic bags with mouthpieces of cleaning products. According to Lauren Simonelli, co-founder and product director of ThreeMain, people are still using their original bottles until two years later. ThreeMain offered subscribers the opportunity to exchange their plastic bottles for aluminum bottles when it moved to Trivium packaging.

According to ThreeMain, the bags you use to refill use 80 percent less plastic than a traditional 16-ounce bottle and can be recycled thanks to ThreeMain's partnership with TerraCycle's Zero Waste Box service. R, Cup sells and collects reusable cups at live events, but focused on supporting takeout services during the pandemic, Martin said. The use of reusable containers in the world of food and beverages is a different beast compared to using them for cleaning supplies. In addition, material that comes into contact with food is under U.S.

government. Food and Drug Administration, and this has slowed innovation in this area. However, the CDC and the FDA are not concerned about the transmission of the coronavirus through packaging. However, reusable logistics with food packaging poses other challenges, Martin noted.

Get articles like this in your inbox. There are a lot of good reasons to use aluminum. Not only is it extremely strong despite its light weight, but it also offers great corrosion resistance and conformability. Not to mention its aesthetic appearance and consistent quality.

One fact about aluminum that doesn't get enough attention is that it's 100% recyclable. And in many ways, I think they should be praised for the use of recycled aluminum, says Josh Lepawsky, a professor at Memorial University who maps the international electronic waste movement. A Coca-Cola spokesperson told The Verge in an email that its aluminum packaging “will be made of up to 70% recycled content. During this month's Apple event, the tech giant announced that its new iPads and Apple Watches would feature components made from 100 percent recycled aluminum.

This is an extremely impressive delivery process and is just one of the reasons why the recycling of aluminum cans (and the recycling of aluminum in general) is such an essential practice. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced this year that they are working to launch aluminum-packaged water as part of their efforts to reduce plastic waste. Transport emissions may be added, for example, from the supply of recycled aluminum. Other data include that, for every ton of aluminum that is recycled, 14,000 kWh of electricity or 1,663 gallons of oil are saved.

When it comes to electronics, Apple manufacturing its products with 100 percent recycled aluminum could set a promising precedent, but the net environmental benefits are not yet entirely clear. Fortunately, because of the high value of scrap aluminum, there is an incentive for aluminum to end up in the recycling pile instead of in the garbage pile. Novelis uses the facility to produce materials for its “evercan”, a beverage container made from 90% recycled aluminum. While the environmental impact of aluminum production can be significant, the benefits of recycling aluminum are obvious.

Recycling aluminum saves about 90 percent of the energy needed to make new aluminum, which is great, since extracting bauxite ore and converting it into aluminum is quite destructive to the environment and consumes a lot of energy. .

Joni Loera
Joni Loera

Hardcore pizza evangelist. Extreme tv aficionado. Avid twitter guru. Amateur travel fanatic. Avid coffee ninja.