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How Aluminum is Recycled

Cans in Recycling Bins

You can take your aluminum cans to a recycling center or leave them in recycling bins at your curb (if you have curbside service).

Trucks transporting Aluminum Cans

The aluminum cans are transported to a processing facility where they use a big magnet to remove other types of metal cans while they go down the conveyor belt.

Processing Facility

The aluminum is washed, shredded and turned into aluminum chips.

The aluminum chips are melted in a large furnace.

aluminum ingots and roll of flat sheets of aluminum

The liquid aluminum is poured into molds that make them into large blocks of aluminum. The blocks are called ingots.

The ingots of aluminum are taken to a can-making factory. There, the aluminum ingots are melted into rolls of flat sheets of aluminum (similar to thick aluminum foil).

Ingots are also sold to manufacturers of aluminum products. These manufacturers melt the ingots down for molding into new products like: thumbtacks, pie pans, license plate frames and aluminum foil.

aluminum cans

The sheets of aluminum are cut and shaped into aluminum cans, inspected and shipped to companies that make drinks. 

The aluminum beverage can returns to the grocer's shelf as a new, filled can in as little as 60 days after collection, remelting, rolling, manufacturing and distribution.