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How To Recycle A Can – The Easy Guide

Picture this: a gleaming aluminum can filled with your favorite beverage, nestled in the cool embrace of your hand on a hot summer’s day. But what happens to that can once the last drop of liquid has been consumed?

In this article, we’ll embark on a fascinating journey through the life of a can, exploring the importance of recycling and the steps you can take to ensure that your can has a second chance at life.

So, buckle up and get ready to learn about the incredible world of recycling cans!

Impacts of Aluminium Can Pollution

Aluminium cans, though 100% recyclable, significantly pollute the environment when not properly disposed. Mining bauxite, their raw material, causes deforestation and water contamination.

Discarded cans persist for 200-500 years, damaging ecosystems. Recycling reduces energy consumption by 95% compared to new production, underscoring the need for recycling initiatives.

So we do we go about can recycling?

Whats the Enviromental Implications of unrecycled cans?

There are a 5 things that happen if recycling wasn’t taken as seriously as it is today, aside from the unsightly scene of trash in our waterways and nature, the material is finite and must be dug out of the grown to replenish the needs for consumable products.

  1. Resource Depletion: Manufacturing new cans requires mining for bauxite, depleting this non-renewable resource and causing habitat destruction.
  2. Energy Consumption: Producing new aluminum cans is energy-intensive, contributing to fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Landfill Space: Cans that are not recycled end up in landfills, consuming valuable space and potentially leaching into soil and groundwater over time.
  4. Pollution: The extraction and processing of bauxite to create new cans release harmful emissions, contributing to air and water pollution.
  5. Waste: Aluminium cans take 200-500 years to decompose, posing long-term waste management challenges.

Types of cans that a recyclable

Recycled cans can be made into new cans, as well as other products like cars, bicycles, and appliances. Scientifically, the process of recycling cans involves melting down the metal to remove impurities and reforming it into new shapes.

The resulting recycled metal can then be used as a raw material for various manufacturing processes, reducing the need for virgin materials and minimizing waste.

Can Type Material Contents
Aluminum cans Aluminum
Steel cans Steel
Tin cans Steel with a thin layer of tin coating
Aerosol cans Steel or aluminum
Bi-metal cans Steel with a layer of tin or aluminum
Empty paint cans Steel or aluminum

Preparing to Recycle a Can:

Before you send your can off to its next adventure, you’ll need to give it a little TLC. Follow these simple steps to prepare your can for recycling:

  • Empty the Can – Show your can some love by making sure it’s completely empty. Leaving liquid inside can lead to contamination, affecting the recycling process.
  • Rinse the Can A quick rinse goes a long way in ensuring a clean recycling process. Just a splash of water will do the trick, and your can will be ready for the next step.
  • Remove the Label While some recycling facilities can handle labels, it’s always best to remove them if you can. Simply peel or cut off the label, and your can is ready for its next journey!

Recycling Options

Now that your can is prepped, it’s time to find the best recycling option for you. Here are a few common routes to consider:

Curbside Recycling

Many communities offer curbside recycling, making it easy to recycle cans from the comfort of your home. Simply place your can in the designated bin, and let the recycling magic happen!

Recycling Centers

If curbside recycling isn’t available in your area, you can visit a recycling center. These facilities accept a variety of materials, including cans, and ensure that they’re processed properly.

Drop-Off Locations

Some grocery stores and other businesses provide drop-off locations for cans. Keep an eye out for these convenient spots, and turn your shopping trip into a recycling mission!

Benefits of Recycling a Can

Recycling cans isn’t just good for the environment—it’s good for you, too! Here are a few benefits of recycling cans:

  • Conservation of Resources Recycling cans saves valuable resources, such as aluminum and energy, which can be used to create new products.
  • Reduction of Waste – Recycling cans keeps them out of landfills, reducing waste and creating a cleaner, greener world.
  • Energy Conservation – Recycling aluminum cans saves up to 95% of the energy needed to create new cans from raw materials. Talk about an energy boost!

How a Recycled Can is processed: A Can’s Second Act

So, what happens to your can once it’s been recycled? Let’s take a look at the thrilling process:

  • Sorting and Separation – At the recycling facility, cans are sorted and separated by material, ensuring that they’re ready for the next step.
  • Melting and Purification – Cans are then melted down and purified, transforming them into molten aluminum that’s ready to be turned into something new.
  • Creation of New Products – Finally, the molten aluminum is used to create new cans, as well as other products like foil and car parts. Your can has officially been given a new lease on life!

Tips for Recycling Cans

Ready to become a recycling expert? Keep these tips in mind:

Familiarize yourself with the types of cans that can be recycled in your area, including aluminum, steel, and tin. Different facilities may have different capabilities, so be sure to check with your local recycling program.

Know Your Local Recycling Rules

Recycling rules can vary depending on your location. Make sure you understand your community’s specific guidelines to ensure that your cans are recycled properly.

Recycle Often Make recycling a habit!

The more you recycle, the bigger the impact you’ll have on conserving resources and protecting the environment.


As we reach the end of our can’s journey, it’s time to reflect on the importance of recycling. By taking a few simple steps to recycle cans, we can conserve valuable resources, reduce waste, and save energy. Remember the love and care you put into preparing your can for recycling, and know that your efforts are making a difference.

So, the next time you enjoy a refreshing beverage, remember the incredible journey that your can will embark on once it leaves your hand. Embrace your role as a responsible consumer and champion for the environment, and together, we can create a cleaner, greener world. Cheers to recycling and giving cans a second chance at life!


How do you recycle empty cans?

To recycle empty cans, clean and dry them, then locate a nearby recycling center that accepts cans. Sort the cans by material (aluminum and steel) and place them in the appropriate bin at the recycling facility.

In which 5 ways can cans be reused?

Cans can be reused as craft supplies storage, planters, candle holders, utensil holders, and DIY lanterns. These creative repurposing ideas give new life to used cans and help reduce waste.

How do you recycle aluminum cans?

To recycle aluminum cans, first clean and dry them. Next, locate a recycling center or drop-off location that accepts aluminum cans. Separate the aluminum cans from other materials, such as steel cans, and deposit them in the appropriate bin at the recycling facility.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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