Aluminum Assoc. Sets Ambitious 75% Aluminum Can Recycling Target

by | Nov 19, 2008

The Aluminum Association is working on an industry wide effort to increase the industry’s recycling rate for used aluminum beverage cans to 75% by 2015. This is the same percentage Alcoa announced as a company goal and target date in January.

To get there, it’s looking into working with local and national government on easier-said-than-done initiatives such as deposit legislation, mandatory recycling programs and landfill bans, and even ways to attaching recycling to potential climate change policies.

Hitting 75% will be no small feat – especially since people just don’t seem to want to recycle. Today, the aluminum industry recovers approximately 54% of the aluminum containers produced in the U.S. But, even with all the green talk taking place, that’s down from a high of 68% in 1992.

In past research, the Natural Marketing Institute has said, “There may not be enough incentive for consumers to recycle, and in a world where consumers are stressed for time and looking for convenience in consumption and disposal, recycling falls in priority.”

One way for companies to get involved in offering incentives is to team up with RecycleBank, a company that tries to get households to recycle by offering coupons from businesses like Starbucks, Bed, Bath & beyond, and Staples.

A Harris Poll from last year found that 67 percent of adults say they recycle aluminum or metal cans.

“If we could recover and recycle 75% of the aluminum cans being currently tossed into landfills–600,000 metric tons of aluminum–we could save 1286 megawatts of generated electricity,” according to an EL column by Greg Wittbecker, Alcoa’s director of corporate metal recycling strategy. “That’s the amount produced by two coal fired power plants, and consumed by two aluminum plants. Replacing this production with recycling would keep 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being generated and released into the atmosphere.”

Stay Informed

Get E+E Leader Articles delivered via Newsletter right to your inbox!

Share This