Nearly 56 billion aluminum cans were recycled in 2010, the highest rate in more than a decade.
In 2010, 58.1% of all aluminum cans in the U.S. were recycled, according to The Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). The new statistic represents the highest level of recycling in more than 10 years, a rate that is more than double that of any other beverage container.
Aluminum beverage cans are unique in that they can be infinitely recycled back into new cans, keeping waste out of landfills and providing a significant amount of the material to make new cans. Aluminum cans not only have the highest recycling rate of all beverage packages, they also contain the greatest amount of recycled content–– at 68%.
And, producing a can from recycled material takes only about 5% of the energy used to make new cans, so the high recycling rate can produce significant energy savings for beverage producers and consumers alike. The amount of energy saved just from recycling cans in 2010 is equal to the energy equivalent of 17 million barrels of crude oil, or nearly two days of all U.S. oil imports.
“There’s a huge difference between what’s recyclable and what’s actually recycled,” said CMI President Robert Budway, via press release. “Not only are cans infinitely recyclable back into new cans, they actually are being recycled at a rate nearly twice that of every other beverage package. This, coupled with the fact that aluminum cans have the highest recycled content and provide the longest shelf life of any beverage package, underscores why the can truly is a sustainable solution for twenty-first century packaging.”
In 2008, the Aluminum Association adopted a goal of recycling 75% of aluminum cans by 2015. The recycling rate at that time was 54.2%, netting a greater than 4% increase in just 3 years.
More than 4.6 million metric tons of aluminum scrap was recycled in the U.S. and shipped throughout the United States and more than 50 countries last year alone.
“Of course we must do more at the federal, state and local levels to enact recycling policies and awareness, and this is a task we continue to pursue aggressively. We continue to look for partners who are also sincere about making a real change in how we approach recycling in the U.S. today,” said Steve Larkin, President, The Aluminum Association.