As consumers, every time we finish a product, we have a choice to make about the empty container: Will it be repurposed, recycled, or sent straight to the trash can?
The decision may seem like an insignificant one (after all, what’s just one piece of trash from one consumer, anyway?)—but, depending on the packaging and the substrate it’s made from, this simple action can contribute to major collective impact. Take metal, for example: Every minute, nearly 90,000 aluminum beverage cans are recycled in the U.S. Together, that volume of recovered materials saves enough energy to power more than 35,000 U.S. homes for one hour, demonstrating the importance of viewing each piece of packaging as a critical component of a much larger entity.
Furthermore, aluminum beverage cans in particular deliver unbelievable benefits when recycled properly. They can be easily and infinitely transformed into new beverage cans in as little as 60 days—a process which actually uses 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than making the container from primary material. Metal is also one of the highest value materials in the recycling stream, to the point that they help fund total operations for local recycling facilities.
Seems like a no-brainer to recycle cans, right? While metal stands as one of the most sustainable materials on the planet, the U.S. actually lags behind in recycling rates compared to other regions around the world, consistently clocking in around at just 40-50%. That’s why we’re working hard as organization that manufactures metal packaging (and is led and operated by consumers just like you) to remind the public how critical recycling is to our future and to help boost national recycling rates as much as possible. Here’s just a few of the measures we are taking:
- Working with partners to improve the system: In partnership with the Can Manufacturers Institute and its members, we are aiming to achieve a 70% recycling rate in the U.S. by 2030. To meet this goal, we are helping to fund can capture grants for local material recovery facilities to ensure more used cans make it through the recycling system successfully, as well as foster greater education for the public on how to properly recycle cans.
- Setting our own operational targets: Our comprehensive Twentyby30 sustainability program includes an Optimum Circularity pillar that keeps us accountable for goals including sending zero waste from our operations to landfill and supporting increased recycling rates in our major markets.
- Investing in a responsible product: We continue to build our capacity around a material that is not just recyclable in theory, but actually retains its valuable properties even after being recycled time and time again. Building our business around this substrate allows us to help lead the industry toward a more ethically and environmentally sound solution that can remain usable for generations to come.
While these steps put us on the right path toward a more successful recycling system, it all starts with each individual remembering the value and potential of that single beverage can. In honor of America Recycles Day, we hope you’ll join us in making the pledge to save and not scrap!