How many times can aluminium be recycled?
Aluminium’s recycling profile is truly remarkable, not just as a standalone material, but in comparison to many other materials.
Because unlike those ‘other materials’ aluminium can be repeatedly recycled. In stark contrast, Styrofoam and used pizza boxes and takeaway drinks cups, paper towels, napkins and plates cannot be recycled. Paper receipts are on the non-recyclable list too due to the fact they are printed on thermal paper and contain a chemical called Bisphenol-A that cannot be extracted.
It’s the same for plastic in all of its forms (be it bubble wrap, drinks bottles and shopping bags) too. It sadly cannot be recycled, which has fuelled the plastics pollution problem that’s currently impacting the planet on a momentous scale. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, 19 to 23 million tonnes of plastic waste leaks into aquatic ecosystems, polluting lakes, rivers and seas. In fact, plastic’s recycling footprint is so small, this study, published in the Science Advances journal in 2017, reported that only 9% of all plastics ever made have ever been recycled.
But back to aluminium and its unrivalled recycling profile, which never fails to impress on so many levels, including the fact it can be recycled over and over again…
Can aluminium be recycled indefinitely?
Believe it or not, yes it can. What’s more, it can be 100% recycled too.
Aluminium can be repeatedly recycled because, unlike other metals, it is a permanent material, i.e. its core properties do not change or ‘transmute’ during the recycling process. As a result, aluminium is one of the most recycled materials on the planet and can be recycled time-and-again to create standalone objects, such as drinks cans, window frames and pipework, and play an integral part in projects, e.g. train tracks, bicycle parts and car bodies.
Very few other materials can be recycled countless times over and reused
Glass also fits this bill; like aluminium, it can be endlessly recycled without compromising quality or purity.
Meanwhile, paper and cardboard can be recycled more than once, but they do have a limited recycling lifespan. They can reportedly be recycled between five and seven times due to the fact the long fibres that make up paper get shorter every time they get recycled. The shorter the fibres become, the more difficult it is to recycle them (Recycle Nation).
How many times can aluminium cans be recycled?
All cans, providing they are made from aluminium, can be recycled indefinitely.
According to The Aluminium Association, aluminium drinks cans are the most sustainable form of drinks packaging. On average, they contain 73% recycled content, which equates to 20 times more than the recycled content of plastic bottles.
We are a major aluminium drinks can recycler – we handle and recycle 500 tonnes of cans every month, which is the equivalent to around 6,000 tonnes a year.
How do we recycle aluminium cans?
In a nutshell, our aluminium can recycling involves the following four steps:
- Separating the light and heavy materials.
- Shredding the cans.
- Passing them over Eddy currents to separate the waste materials.
- Bailing the material for transportation.
One metal, multiple recycling results
Aluminium is an incredibly special metal with an exceptional recycling reputation for a very good reason. And when you consider the fact the actual process of recycling aluminium only uses around 5% of the energy and emissions needed to make it from the raw material, bauxite, aluminium becomes that even more special.
For more information or to discuss your aluminium recycling requirements with us, email our Commercial Manager, Ed George, at email@example.com