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Consideration of Balers / Recycling Equipment for Aluminum



Recycling Aluminum Cans - <Click Here for Various Balers and Bale Weights for Aluminum Cans>

As with so many materials we use daily, aluminum is something that should not be ending up in the landfill. By recycling aluminum it helps ensure that there will always be enough to meet the needs for  everyday uses.

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Aluminum was discovered in the 1820’s and was found to be the most abundant metal on the earth.  Since then, aluminum has been used to manufacture many items such as aluminum cans, gutters, aluminum foil, and many other items.  In 1972, approximately 26,500 tons of aluminum cans were recycled and today that number is estimated to be as high as 800,000 tons.  Over 100,000 Aluminum cans are recycled every minute in the U.S. alone. Every can that is recycled means more resources that are available at a lesser cost. Even though the economic benefits are straightforward, there are still many hundreds of thousands of tons of aluminum cans every year that are being disposed of alongside roadways, in dumpsters, and in office trash cans.

The average employee consumes 2.5 aluminum cans worth of beverages per day.  Because of this, places of employment have implemented recycling programs by placing bins in break rooms, hallways, and offices.  This helps prevents aluminum cans from landing in landfills and diverts them to the recycling centers like they should be (so that they can be recycled and back on store shelves within sixty days). It only takes about 6 weeks to manufacture, fill, sell, recycle and then remanufacture a beverage can. Used aluminum cans are recycled and returned to a store shelf as a new can in as few as 60 days.

Facts and Benefits to Recycling Aluminum

  • Aluminum can be recycled forever. It never wears out.  Aluminum cans are easy to convert into new cans and once again placed on store shelves.  The cost to recycle a can is less than manufacturing a new can. The Aluminum Can is 100% recyclable and can be recycled indefinitely.   

  • The yearly amount of recycled aluminum cans easily exceeds 60 billion cans. The energy savings from recycling aluminum cans is the same that is derived from roughly 15 million barrels of crude oil which is consistent with how much gas the United States consumes in a day.  And, recycling 40 Aluminum cans provides the energy saving equivalent of one gallon of gasoline.

  • The aluminum can is the consumer product that is recycled the most. 

  • The aluminum industry pays out a total of $800 million dollars for empty aluminum cans each year.  This money goes to organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, local schools, and Habitat for Humanity.  The money obtained from recycling goes right back into the community.

  • Aluminum has high market value, so it provides an economic incentive for individuals and businesses to recycle.  Some communities offer curbside pick-up for recycling.

  • Recycling just one aluminum can is the equivalent of keeping a 100-watt light bulb burning for approximately four hours or having the television running for three hours.

  • According to the U.S. EPA, recycling aluminum reduces the amount ending up in the landfills by almost 55 percent.

  • Recycling aluminum saves 95 percent of the energy that is required to make cans from virgin bauxite ore.

  • Unlike plastics, you don’t have to remove paper labels or scrub the can clean. The heat used in the melting process eliminates any of the contaminants.

  • Recycling one ton of aluminum saves 10 cubic yards of landfill space.

  • Recycled cans can be made into furniture, airplanes, appliances, and more.

Disadvantages of Recycling Aluminum

  • One of the biggest disadvantages of recycling aluminum is its need to be separated from steel, plastic, and other debris.

  • When aluminum is continually recycled it loses it quality. So a product made with new aluminum will be of higher quality than the recycled product.

  • The Sorting is time consuming and costs money. There are high energy costs in reprocessing and transporting materials.

Tips / Do’s and Don’ts of Recycling Aluminum Cans

  • If a magnet won’t stick to your food can, chances are it is aluminum.

  • If you want to maximize the recycling dollars, make sure that the cans are clean and dry. 

  •  By rinsing out aluminum cans, it will help prevent odors and insect issues.

  •  No aluminum pie plates, tin, steel, scrap metal or other such materials should be mixed in.

The demand for aluminum is growing, which means that companies specializing in aluminum recycling are changing and growing their businesses to meet customer’s product specifications and the needs of the market.

States and even local areas are beginning to get tough when it comes to recycling. For example, Lee County Florida is faced with a new law in which businesses, condos owners/renters, and apartment residents are required to recycle, not only the aluminum cans, but steel, other metals, and office paper. Their reasoning is that the more recycling that occurs, the cheaper it will be to recycle in the future, thus making the product cheaper, which ultimately means that the manufacturing of the product will be cheaper. Those who don’t comply with the mandatory recycling program will be fined. In North Carolina, businesses that serve alcohol are required to recycle both aluminum cans and glass bottles.

It is only a matter of time before recycling is made mandatory in every state nationwide. If there is no purpose or reasoning behind aluminum clogging up our landfills it shouldn’t be disposed of in that manner. The benefits of recycling aluminum far out way the disadvantages; so if you don’t have a recycling program in your place of employment, perhaps it’s time to start one.

Basic Benefits of Aluminum Can Recycling are:

Besides some of the obvious 'green benefits' such as huge reductions in energy consumption (95% reduction in energy needed to produce aluminum from bauxite ore), saving natrual resources, and  less water poluttion (97% reduction versus producing new metal from ore) there are direct benefits to organization such as:

  • Aluminum Can Recycling helps reduce waste disposal costs (since the Aluminum Cans are removed from the waste stream).

  • Aluminum Can Recycling helps generate revenues from the sale of the recycled Aluminum.

  • Aluminum Can Recycling helps reduce labor costs associated with the handling of Aluminum Cans during the waste disposal process.

  • Aluminum Can Recycling helps with streamlining overall waste processing operations.

  • Aluminum Can Recycling helps free up space (used for the temporary storage of Aluminum Cans).

  • Aluminum Can Recycling helps improve workplace safety and neatness.

Markets for Recovered Aluminum

The main markets for recovered Aluminum are Transportation (31%), Packaging (22%); Other (22%) which includes categories such as Electrical, Consumer Durables, Machinery & Equipment; Building & Construction (13%) and Export (12%). Aluminum is very much in demand in the transportation industry due to its strength and lightweight properties. As an example of it's incredible strength, the equivalent of 24 cans of aluminum can hold up a 4,000 pound vehicle.

Recycling Equipment Considerations

Bale weights of Aluminum cans produced by either Vertical Balers or Horizontal Balers will typically range from around 150 pounds for a Standard 30” Baler on up to 1,000 pounds for a 60” Super High Density Vertical Baler with a 10" Cylinder. Oftentimes a 7" cylinder 60" Vertical Baler is recommended for achieving bales weights of 500 pounds. Of course, the Horizontal Balers can produce much more automation and output per day or hour however the cost will be many times that of a vertical baler.

Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com  

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