Recovery of aluminum for recycling has dropped from a high of 68% in 1992 to just over 50% in 2003. While aluminum recovery has fluctuated, it has a long history of recycling primarily because recycled aluminum provides significant energy savings compared to the use of virgin raw materials (mainly the ore bauxite).
Although aluminum is a nonrenewable resource, it can be recycled indefinitely. Recycled cans are melted into ingots weighing up to 60,000 pounds-enough aluminum to make 1.6 million new cans. It takes 60 days for a can to journey from the recycling bin through the recycling process and land back on store shelves.
Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy needed to produce new aluminum from raw materials. Energy saved from recycling one ton of aluminum is equal to the amount of electricity the average home uses over 10 years. The value of aluminum also typically covers the cost for its collection and reprocessing. Recyclers paid nearly $1 billion for aluminum beverage cans in 2002.
Besides cans, other aluminum products that can be recycled include foil wrap, food cans, pie plates, frozen food trays, lawn chair tubing, storm door and window frames, residential siding, and auto parts. Learn more here.