Aluminum producers and recyclers in the aluminum industry work with individuals, communities and businesses to enable both curbside and industrial recycling programs. UBC (used beverage container) recycling is the most readily recognized of the recycling programs. Aluminum is also recycled at the end of life from products such as cars and building parts. Window frames, wire, tubing and electronics are additional examples of aluminum that is recycled at the end of life.
Aluminum is recycled through a variety of programs. The most commonly recognized consumer programs are curbside and municipal. In these programs, items like beverage cans, aluminum foil, aluminum baking trays and pie pans are recycled. The aluminum industry actively supports the Curbside Value Partnership, which is a program dedicated to increasing participation in curbside recycling programs and to measure this growth using solid data. Within the industry, building and automotive parts are collected for recycling. More than 90 percent of the aluminum in building and automotive parts is recycled at the end of use. All of these items serve as a feedstock and are sent to aluminum recyclers to be melted down in the secondary production process.
Aluminum is one of the most recycled -- and most recyclable -- materials on the market today. Nearly 75 percent of all aluminum produced in the U.S. is still in use today. Aluminum can be recycled over and over again without any loss to quality. In fact, an aluminum beverage container can be recycled and back on the shelf in 60 days.
The economics of aluminum also contributes to its position as one of the most-recycled metals in the U.S. Unlike many other materials, aluminum more than pays for its own recycling in the consumer and industrial waste stream. The reason: demand for aluminum continues to skyrocket and recycling aluminum saves more than 90 percent of the energy required versus producing new metal.
During WWII, aluminum foil was so vital to the defense effort that families were encouraged to save strips of foil. In many towns, the foil balls could be exchanged for a free entry to a movie theater. Government-sponsored posters, ads, radio shows, and pamphlet campaigns urged Americans to contribute to scrap drives. A New York radio station, WOR, debuted the radio-sketch show “Aluminum for Defense” in 1941.