What Can I Recycle?
Through advances in recycling technology, you have more options than ever. And it’s a good thing because we need to conserve as much of our resources as possible. The following can generally be recycled: metals, paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, batteries, bulbs and electronics. Details of what can be recycled and where vary from city to city.
A Day in the Life of a Recycled Can
- Customer takes can to a recycling center or puts it into a recycling bin.
- The can is transported to a processing facility.
- A giant magnet lifts out cans that are made of metals such steel. Since aluminum cans aren’t magnetic, they drop down to a conveyor belt and are gathered.
- The aluminum is shredded, washed and turned into aluminum chips.
- The chips are melted in a large furnace.
- The melted aluminum is poured into molds called “ingots.”
- The ingots are taken to a factory where they’re melted into rolls of thin, flat sheets.
- From the sheets, manufacturers make new products, including new beverage cans, pie pans, license plate frames, and aluminum foil.
- Beverage companies fill the cans and deliver them to grocery stores for customers to purchase.
- Customers take used cans to a recycling center and the process starts all over again.
ALUMINUM FOIL AND BAKEWARE
Unlike aluminum cans, foil may have food particles attached, making it harder for recycling facilities to accept. But foil is easy to wipe clean. So reuse it as much as you can, and clean it off before putting it in the recycling bin. Consider buying 100% recycled aluminum foil. You’ll be supporting a process that uses five percent less energy than the traditional aluminum foil manufacturing process.
STEEL CANS AND TIN CANS (SOUP CANS, VEGGIE CANS, COFFEE CANS, ETC.)
During the recycling process, steel cans (in bales or loose) are fed into the furnaces of a steel mill or foundry. They may be mixed with new steel.
Some of the new “mini” steel mills manufacture their products from 100% recycled steel.
Steel, tin, and the California Gold Rush.
When you think of the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, your first thought may not be of canned goods. But it was the need to supply the gold miners with fruit, meat, and vegetables that gave rise to the demand for canned foods. By the start of the Civil War, around 30 million cans were being produced annually in the United States.