Some months ago my girlfriend and I moved together, to a nice town with a big river and many beautiful places in the nature. Quite perfect to go for a walk or a bike tour on Sundays. But suddenly I realized that I have no bicycle! First world problem, huh? Phew, and let me tell you: It’s so difficult to find a cool bike! But while I searched the internet, I found this one special bike I was totally hooked on and finally bought. Besides I discovered that bicycles can be made of recycled cans! How cool is that? The extra benefit: My research even made me think more about recycling in general.
First of all, I took a closer look at recycling in numbers and this was really impressive! A large amount of our food and drink packaging is made from aluminium or steel and both materials are perfect to get recycled forever and ever and ever. Making aluminium from recycled cans uses only 5% of the energy you would need for producing it from its raw materials. Recycled steel cans save at least 75% of the energy. In relation to the steel cans used in in the USA in one year, this would be enough energy to power 18 million homes. Furthermore, recycling saves the resources, you would need for new products. One ton of steel cans can save up to 1.5 tons iron, 0.65 tons coal and 0.3 tons limestone. Long story short: Every can saves its own weight twice. You see: With good recycling we can save energy, emissions and natural resources!
The Lifecycle of a Recycled Can
Now, let’s recycle! But how does it actually work? It all starts with the customer taking the can to a recycling centre or bin. Then, the can is transported to a facility, where a giant magnet separates the steel can metals. As you know, aluminium isn’t magnetic, so it is transported, for instance, via air stream onto a conveyor belt, where it is gathered. Regardless of whether steel or aluminium, the next step is to melt the well separated metals to get new raw material. This is made into usable forms like sheets and coils and brought to manufactures. They finally create new cans or other products with those materials.
Aluminium cans are often turned into new cans. Thanks to modern technology, it’s possible to get the new cans back to store in just six weeks. Other aluminium scraps often are reused in engine components. Recycled steel can be found nearly everywhere. Not only in new cans of course, but also in bridges, vehicles like trains or ships, in pipes, in watering cans, clockworks and of course in my new bike! 😉
So what about you? Did you ever come across something made from recycled cans you didn’t even think of being made from recycled material? Leave me a comment!