Friday night! Hanging out with some friends and having a couple of canned beers. The weather is nice and the sun is shining, so we grab some cans and go to our favourite place at the river. What a great summer evening! The next day we all might have a little hangover as a result, but there’s something more important to think about: where do the empty cans go? Have you ever wondered what happens to a beverage can after putting it into the recycling bin? Okay, we know by now that it will be recycled, but what does that really mean? As I laid on my couch last Saturday, still a little bit done in from the party the night before, I thought about this recycling thing and so I did some research about can recycling. And of course, I can’t wait to share some insights with you.
The Power of Endlessly Recyclable Materials
It is always a good idea to choose the packaging material of your food and beverage, wisely. But did you know, that cans are a great alternative to other packaging, especially when it comes to drinks? First of all, you really get the wow effect when realizing, how sustainable the can material is! For example, making aluminium from recycled cans uses only 5 percent of the energy you would need for producing it from its raw materials. Steel cans have the similar sustainable character, as you can save at least 70 percent of the energy through recycling. Furthermore, you can just keep remelting and reforming it, without ever losing any of its strength or natural properties. This means metal can be reused and recycled forever! Through this, up to 80 percent of all metal ever made is still in use today. Recycling one tonne of metal scrap uses 70-95 percent energy less than making metal from virgin raw material. That’s a pretty insane fact, right? In general, by drinking our beer out of cans, we can save energy, emissions and natural resources!
Recycling The Can in 7 Steps
- It all starts with us, the consumers, who put the cans into the recycle bin and not just into the normal garbage, or God forbid, leave them out in nature.
- Next, the metal is collected and taken to a treatment plant.
- In the treatment plant, the metal is sorted and cleaned. That’s an important step to get the cans ready for an effective reprocessing. Depending on the size and type of the facilities, the sorting includes the combined use of conveyor belts, shredders screens, magnets and actual human checking.
- Then the metal goes through a re-melt process and is turned into molten metal. That removes the coatings and inks, which may be still on the surface.
- The now liquid metal is poured into casting moulds and made into large blocks, called ingots. One of these giants can contain up to 1.6 million former cans!
- The ingots come to a finishing mill, which flattens them into super slim sheets. These get rolled up and are now ready for further using.
- The metal sheets get to manufactures and are used to create new products, such as cans, aerosols or other packaging.
It is Up to You, Me and All the Others
You see, recycling is not only exciting, but also very important! And it is up to all of us to put our beloved cans into the recycle bins, so that they can come back again and again. So, the next time you have a nice cold can of beer or soda in your hands, imagine how cool and endless useable its material is, and maybe have another one. 😉
I really hope I could give you an insight into the recycling process. What surprised you the most? Leave me a comment!