If you’re one of the many Americans who tossed your beverage cans into the recycling bin last year, give yourself a pat on the back. You helped save millions of barrels of oil.
The U.S. recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans has reached its highest level in more than a decade, with 58.1 percent of all cans recycled in 2010, according to the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.
Americans recycled nearly 56 billion aluminum cans last year. And since it takes 95 percent less energy to produce a can from recycled materials, the increase in recycling meant huge oil savings.
The amount of energy saved from aluminum can recycling in 2010 is equal to the energy equivalent of 17 million barrels of crude oil or nearly two days of all U.S. oil imports.
High recycling rates amounted to 4.6 million metric tons of aluminum scrap processed in the states last year, which was used to create new cans in America and 50 other countries, said Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.
Unlike many recyclables – such as plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, which are rarely reused to create the same product – aluminum can be repeatedly recycled back into new cans.
Easy recyclability gives aluminum cans the highest recycling rate and greatest recycled content (a whopping 68 percent) of any beverage container.
“There’s a huge difference between what’s recyclable and what’s actually recycled,” said Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute. “Not only are cans infinitely recyclable back into new cans, they actually are being recycled at a rate nearly twice that of every other beverage package.”
So, the next time you take a sweet sip of your favorite canned beverage, don’t forget the chasing arrows. You may help America make recycling history again next year.