While recycling equipment called eddy currents are extremely effective at sorting out aluminum packaging from the rest of the single stream recyclables at a material recovery facility (MRF), crushed or flattened cans can occasionally be lost prior to when the recyclables are run through a facility’s existing eddy current. Placing additional eddy currents elsewhere at a MRF helps to capture missorted cans.
The facility, a single-stream MRF operated by Republic Services, processes 65,000 tons of material per year from the City of Milwaukee and 26 communities in Waukesha County. The Milwaukee area recycling facility is the fourth MRF to receive funding from a grant program facilitated by Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI). CMI partnered with The Recycling Partnership to evaluate and select the grantees, execute the grant program and provide technical assistance to ensure successful implementation. Earlier this year, The Recycling Partnership also worked with the City of Milwaukee to deploy more than 18,600 recycling carts and fund a city-wide education and outreach effort to support the transition to universal, every-other-week recycling collection. More than 10 million new pounds of recyclables, including cans, will be collected each year through this curbside recycling program upgrade. The can capture equipment investment in the Milwaukee area recycling system will help make sure that the increased volume of cans collected at curbside due to the cart deployment and education effort is sorted properly and ultimately made into new cans.
“The City of Milwaukee and Waukesha County are honored that our facility received this generous grant to purchase equipment to capture additional aluminum beverage cans, one of the most valuable commodities in our recycling program,” said Alan Barrows, land resources Manager for Waukesha County.
“Thank you to Ardagh and Crown for investing in recycling facilities to help more aluminum beverage cans complete their circular journey to becoming a new can,” said Rick Meyers, sanitation services manager for the City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works. “This additional eddy current will help us ensure increased capture of aluminum beverage cans, which will deliver significant revenue to help sustain city services as well as enable our residents to make a larger environmental impact from recycling.”
The grant program builds off the CMI research released last year that found it is critical to capture all used beverage cans (UBC) flowing through MRFs, which play the vital role of sorting single stream recyclables. This research concluded that most MRFs in the United States would not be able to operate without the revenue from UBCs considering they are consistently the most valuable material among the leading beverage packages in the recycling stream. Capturing more beverage cans means a healthier recycling system.
“Can Manufacturers Institute members Ardagh and Crown are catalyzing a significant environmental and economic impact through funding these can capture grants at U.S. recycling sortation facilities that result in many millions more aluminum beverage cans recycled annually,” said CMI President Robert Budway. “These cans will now complete their circular journey, which almost always is into a new can within 60 days, and this circular journey can happen infinitely since metal recycles forever.”
The first three grantees in the program were Curbside Management, Ashville, NC; GEL Recycling, Port Orange, FL and Independent Texas Recyclers, Houston, TX. Collectively, the equipment installed from the first four grants will result in an additional 67 million aluminum cans recycled every year. The impact of 67 million aluminum beverage cans recycled is more than $1 million in revenue for the U.S. recycling system and energy savings that could power more than 26 million U.S. homes for one hour.
This grant program is the latest aluminum beverage can industry funded effort to build on its industry-leading recycling rates and recycled content. The grant program will foster additional examples of MRFs that have successfully invested in can capture equipment, providing case studies to spur more MRFs to invest their capital in aluminum can capture equipment, and, in turn, secure the revenue and environmental benefits from greater recycling of aluminum beverage cans.
To learn more about the importance to the recycling system of capturing cans and CMI’s efforts to ensure more cans are correctly sorted at MRFs, visit cancentral.com/cansdriverecycling.
Milwaukee Area Recycling Facility Receives Check for Aluminum Beverage Can Capture Grant. Pictured (left to right) from the City of Milwaukee, Rick Meyers, sanitation services manager, and Samantha Longshore, resource recovery program manager, and from Waukesha County, Analiese Smith, recycling and solid waste supervisor, and Alan Barrows, land resources manager.
Can Manufacturers Institute
The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) is the national trade association of the metal can manufacturing industry and its suppliers in the United States. The can industry accounts for the annual domestic production of approximately 130.7 billion food, beverage and general line cans; employs more than 28,000 people with plants in 33 states, Puerto Rico and American Samoa; and generates about $15.7 billion in direct economic activity. CMI members are committed to providing safe, nutritious and refreshing canned food and beverages to consumers in the most sustainable packaging. For more information, visit cancentral.com.
The Recycling Partnership
The Recycling Partnership is the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good. Our team operates at every level of the recycling value chain and works on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain, from working with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet climate and sustainability goals, to working with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of the U.S. recycling system, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 500 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 968 million gallons of water, avoided more than 500,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org.