My recycling bin gets emptied today.
My two daughters and Lise's boyfriend have, between them, managed to get through so many cans of drink (Carlsberg, Red Bull, Pepsi... you name it, they've probably had it) in just one week that my normally half full recycling bin has been full since Tuesday. I was gobsmacked by the fact that three people alone could produce that much aluminium waste so decided to have a nosey around the 'Net to see what would actually happen to all those cans.
A lot of us use aluminium cans – and by that I mean those used for beer and fizzy drinks, not the tin cans that soup, dog food and that sort of thing come in – at some point. Some of us only use them very occasionally, others use them on a daily basis. And guess what? I’m not gonna preach and say “stop using them”. Ok, so it would be best if we never used them but as they’re one of the waste products we produce that are easiest to recycle, there’s no reason to feel mega guilty about them or render people working in the industry jobless.
Apparently, once cans are sorted from our recycling bins, they’re pressed into huge bales and sent off for melting. Their decoration is then stripped off through a burning process before they’re moved into high temperature furnaces where they’re melted along with previously unused aluminium. The molten metal is then cooled and rolled into thin sheets ready to become new cans. And best of all, the whole process from the cans being picked up at the kerbside to being ready to refill takes just 60 days. That’s efficient recycling.
The downside of using drinks cans is this – if you don’t recycle them but throw them in the general household waste bin or, worse, chuck them along roadside verges, in woodland, fields and similar, they’ll still be there in 300 years time! Can you imagine somebody who’s one of your descendants by 18 generations cutting himself on a rusty can that you once threw away? That’s like you being hurt by something that somebody threw away in 1708! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Certainly there are still original cans laying about that date from the 1950s when they were first introduced in the
Another interesting fact is that if every can sold in the
Another interesting point that I picked up is that the production of virgin cans (no, that doesn't mean cans made by one of Richard Branson's companies and neither does it have anything to do with sex) leaves a HUGE footprint while recycling a can uses just 5% of that energy.
At the moment we’re recycling around 30% of aluminium cans here in the
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb
Other posts that may be of interest: