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This version of NSU News has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of NSU News, visit news.nova.edu.

This version of SharkBytes has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of SharkBytes, visit sharkbytes.nova.edu.

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Contact

Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

nova.edu/prmc

SharkBytes Archives

Contact

Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

(954) 262-5353
(800) 541-6682 x25353
Fax: (954) 262-3954
communications@nova.edu

Aluminum Recycling

Source: http://www.epa.gov

Aluminum cans are lightweight, convenient, portable, and keep beverages cold. They are often used to package soda, beer, and other beverages, and account for nearly all of the beverage packaging market for some products.

Just the Facts

In 2010, the United States generated about 1.9 million tons of aluminum as containers and packaging. About 1.5 million tons of aluminum were used to make durable and nondurable goods, such as appliances and automobile parts.

The total amount of aluminum in the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream—3.4 million tons—represented 1.4 percent of total MSW generation in 2010. In 1960, aluminum in MSW was only 0.4 percent of MSW generation (340,000 tons).

Americans discarded about 2.7 million tons of aluminum. The largest source of aluminum in the MSW stream is used beverage containers and other packaging containers.

In 2010, 50 percent of aluminum beer and soft drink containers generated were recycled (about 0.7 million tons).

Automobiles also contain aluminum, but this aluminum is generally not calculated in measures of MSW generation, recycling, or disposal.

Recycling Aluminum

Individuals and haulers can deposit and collect aluminum used beverage containers (UBCs) at the curbside or community drop-off centers. From there, haulers take the cans to a material recovery facility (MRF), where workers separate aluminum cans from other food and beverage containers. Since most recovered UBCs are processed into new cans, it is important that processors generate only high-quality scrap. The recovered aluminum containers must be free from dirt and other foreign substances. The MRF or a scrap dealer then bales the cans, which brokers and can sheet manufacturers purchase.

Can sheet manufacturers typically have arrangements with toll processors to refine the metal and melt it into ingots, which are solid metal blocks. The can sheet manufacturers then melt the ingots to make cans, and then sell the cans back to the beverage industry.

Markets for Recovered Aluminum

UBCs are the largest component of processed aluminum scrap, with most UBC scrap manufactured back into aluminum cans. Diecasts used by the automotive industry constitute the second largest portion of recovered aluminum. In the future, increased demand for fuel-efficient, lightweight cars is expected to make aluminum more popular in automobile manufacturing.