Recycling aluminum cans benefits society for a number of reasons. First, the cans are kept out of a landfill, saving valuable space by not becoming garbage. Second, manufacturing original aluminum from bauxite (aluminum ore) is an electricity-intensive process, according to the National Energy Education Development Project. It takes 95 percent more energy to make original aluminum than it takes to remelt used aluminum. Third, recycling centers buy aluminum cans, so people can make a little extra money by recycling aluminum cans.
In 2011, most, if not all soda cans are made from aluminum. This is because the metal is easily formed, and is relatively inexpensive. Professor Fred Senese of Frostberg University states that a small amount of manganese is added into the aluminum to make it stronger. Since aluminum soda cans are so common, most recycling centers will freely buy soda cans from you.
Beer cans are also made out of aluminum. However, this was not always the case. Before aluminum usage became widespread, beer cans were made out of steel. In 1959, beer cans transitioned from steel to aluminum, according the the University of Utah's Department of Anthropology. In 2011, aluminum beer cans can be recycled easily. As a side note, antique steel beer cans are considered collectibles, and actively bought and sold in the collector's market.
Some small tuna cans are made out of aluminum, and also recycle easily. The actual composition of the metal varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Before you collect tuna cans to take to the recycling center, place a small magnet on the can. If the magnet sticks, it is not aluminum but steel. If the can is steel, it should be placed into your steel can recycling bin if available.
Flat rectangular sardine cans are also made out of aluminum, and easily recycled. These cans have a peel-off lid, and the lid should be recycled too. However, like tuna cans, not all sardine or fish cans are made out of aluminum. Some can be made out of steel, depending on the manufacturer. Test the can and lid with a small magnet. If the magnet sticks, the metal is steel, and should go into the steel bin.
About the Author
Tony Oldhand has been technical writing since 1995. He has worked in the skilled trades and diversified into Human Services in 1998, working with the developmentally disabled. He is also heavily involved in auto restoration and in the do-it-yourself sector of craftsman trades. Oldhand has an associate degree in electronics and has studied management at the State University of New York.