The US aluminum can industry recycled 42.7bn cans in 2019, according to a new report by the Aluminum Association (AA).
In its Key Performance Indicators 2020 report, the AA noted that aluminum cans had the highest consumer recycling rate of 46.1pc among beverage packaging materials such as glass and plastic bottles, which were recycled at 39.6pc and 20.7pc respectively.
As for industrial recycling rates (IRR), the first estimates from 1972 were 15.4pc. Since then, recycling rates have grown to 63.6pc in 2018. In 2019 however, the IRR for aluminum cans fell to 55.9pc, driven by changes in production within the industry.
The AA also indicated that aluminum cans have the highest recyclable content among the three materials, with 73pc compared to 23pc in glass and 5.6pc in plastic bottles. Unlike aluminum, which remains an infinitely recyclable material, glass and plastic waste is down-cycled into products like carpet fiber or landfill liners.
The Association noted that producing secondary aluminum from recycled metal requires only 8pc of the energy used to make primary aluminum and is a profitable business with the price of aluminum can scrap averaging at $1,210/mt in 2019.