Around 70 percent of the U.S. aluminum production is in making recycled aluminum. In the beverage can market, a used can is often recycled over and over again in a true closed loop process. The recycling rate for cans far exceeds competitive packaging tpes but the industry wants to continue to improve. To do that, responsible, comprehensive, and sensible recycling policy is needed.
There are many elements to a successful, comprehensive recycling program. The Aluminum Association and its members have invested in research and program development for decades to help municipalities implement effective recycling programs. In general, the aluminum industry supports recycling programs that not only place value on recycling as a whole, but also differentiate between higher and lower value recyclables. Following is the Association and industry position on a number of specific recycling policy prescriptions:
- Deposit Legislation: The aluminum industry has documented the high quality and quantity of recycled beverage cans reclaimed from states with deposit legislation. More than 40 percent of the cans recycled by the industry come from the ten container deposit states. While our industry does not advocate for or against the adoption of this strategy, we do believe that any changes to successful programs should be to improve them. For this reason, we support deposit where it has been enacted.
- Pay-As-You-Throw: The Aluminum Association supports recycling systems that assign value to recyclable materials and that properly reflect the cost of wasting natural resources. By encouraging consumers to recycle more and waste less, more aluminum diversion is achieved by even modest shifts in fees and incentives in the hundreds of communities that have implemented pay-as-you-throw programs.
- Landfill bans: Each year in the United States around $900 million worth of aluminum cans are not recycled and end up in landfills. This wasted value represents a loss to the environment and the overall economy. Cans aren’t trash -- Used beverage cans are a valuable material stream for the aluminum industry and the Aluminum Association supports programs that keep that material out of landfills. Landfill bans achieve the specific goal of constituent awareness, and the broader goal of material diversion, and should be included in comprehensive recycling and material management systems which route that material back into the closed loop.