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Recycling Aluminum Cans & Aluminum Foil


Aluminum happens to be the metal of choice for food storage, but it is quite expensive. Fortunately, all metals, including aluminum, are perfect candidates for recycling. Aluminum cans and foil are some of the materials most commonly recycled by households and commercial establishments alike. Although both are made of aluminum, there are slight differences in their recycling methods.

What are Aluminum Cans and Foil Used for?

Aluminum, the metal used in both aluminum cans and foil, is made from a mineral called bauxite. Aluminum cans are primarily used as containers for ready-to-consume food items like oil, cereals and other edible goods. Aluminum foil, with its ability to bend and fold easily into any shape, is also used to store food. Unlike cans, foil is used when the food being stored is not in a standard shape. For instance, foil pieces are used to wrap chocolates.

The property that makes aluminum such an ideal candidate for food storage is its ability to act as a barrier between food and light as well as oxygen. This is why food can be preserved even when there is no refrigeration available. Of course, aluminum foil is widely used to pack leftover food in the refrigerator, something that almost everybody does!

Why Recycle Aluminum?

More than 100 billion aluminum cans are sold each year in the United States, but only less than 50% are recycled. This adds up to 1.5 million tons of aluminum cans waste worldwide every year. According to the Container Recycling Institute, aluminum cans represent only 1.4% of a ton of garbage by weight, but they account for 14.1% of the greenhouse gas impacts associated with replacing an average ton of garbage with new products made from virgin materials.

Takeaway Aluminum Recycling Facts

The Recycling Process for Aluminum Cans & Foil

Thanks to their similar properties, cans and foil made of aluminum are recycled in a similar fashion. There are some slight modifications, which are highlighted below.

Recycling Aluminum Cans – Aluminum can recycling is a straightforward process since aluminum has a non-sticky surface which does not absorb anything.

Aluminum Cans: Should You Crush Them or Not?

Recyclers have always recommended crushing the aluminum cans. But times have changed, and crushing cans isn’t really beneficial. If you are using a vending machine for a soda or beverage, this might be of help:

How Are Cans Recycled?

Check this video to see how aluminum can recycling takes place.

Here Are The Steps Involved In The Recycling Process For Aluminum Cans:

Recycling Aluminum Foil

Unlike cans, recycling aluminum foil is tricky since cans maintain a rigid cylindrical or square shape which makes them easy to rinse. Foil pieces though are almost like paper sheets. It’s time to answer the question, can you recycle aluminum foil?

Yes you can, but once foil has been used it will have food particles stuck on it and may become oddly shaped or crumpled. Recycling centers will often not accept used foil since it contaminates existing aluminum batches that have come in for recycling.

Now That The Question “Is Aluminum Foil Recyclable?” Has Been Answered, Here Are The Steps For Recycling:

Benefits of Recycling

Aluminum happens to be one of the most highly consumed metals, which makes it very important to recycle aluminum foil and cans. Here are some of the major benefits to consider:

Other Basic Benefits of Aluminum Can Recycling:

Aluminum can recycling helps:

Recycling Equipment Considerations

Bale weights of aluminum cans compressed by using Vertical Balers or Horizontal Balers typically range from around 150 pounds for a Standard 30″ Baler up to 1,000 pounds for a 10″ Cylinder 60″ Super High Density Vertical Baler. Usually, a 60″ Vertical Baler with a 7″ cylinder is recommended for achieving bales weights of 500 pounds.

Although the Horizontal Balers can produce higher output per day or hour through automation, the cost is many times that of a vertical baler.


In today’s times, it is faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient to recycle aluminum than it was before. Being 100% recyclable, aluminum is the most recyclable (and valuable) of all materials. So, toss the aluminum can and foil in your recycling bin today; it will be recycled and return to the shelf in just 60 days.

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