Just read a piece on the Packaging World eClip newsletter that mentions aluminum cans are the most recycled of all beverage containers. Sounds good so far, right.
Well, maybe not. It goes on to say that 54.8% of all aluminum beverage containers are recycled. Doesn’t seem like good news to me. This suggests that 45.2% of all aluminum beverage containers end up landfilled, littered or incinerated. And this is the best beverage container.
In fact Robert Budway, President of the Can Manufacturers Institute sounds very upbeat announcing the news. He says “”This shows recycling rates for cans (are) strong and can makers are committed to their continual increase.”
Well actually no. I did a little checking and it turns out that aluminum beverage container recycling rates are down about 15% to 20% in the last 10 years, depending on what measure you use. And these are industry statistics from The Aluminum Association. In 1998 about 64 million cans were collected and 62.8% of were recycled. In 2008 53 million were collected and 54% were recycled. Seems to me the numbers are heading in the wrong direction.
And if aluminum is best, what’s the news for glass or PET. Here are the 2006 numbers according to the Container Recycling Institute, the US totals are as follows, they say aluminum is recycled at a 45% rate, PET plastic at 23%, and glass bottles at 35%. It is interesting to note that in the 11 deposit states, the recycling rate is almost double the national average.