Around The World In 60 Days: Life Story Of An Aluminum Can

Aluminium Cans

The average life cycle of a human being from a birth to a death is 60 years and the life cycle of an aluminum can from mining to recycling is 60 days.

The life of aluminum can starts in tropical and sub-tropical countries like Australia, Central and South America, Africa and Asia where are major bauxite ore deposits are located, but before bauxite can be converted to aluminum it has to go through the infancy stage where it is called alumina. After processing, alumina or aluminum oxide looks like a fine grained white powder, just like baby powder.

What happens when baby touches electric current? Most likely baby will get an electric shock. In the case of aluminum electrical energy is necessary part of its production.  Usually, aluminum is extracted from alumina by electrolysis in smelting plants of China, North America, Europe, and Asia.

rusacanJust like any other teenager In North America and Western Europe aluminum likes rock-and-roll. It is rolled in a shape of sheet and foil and used for making beverage cans, foil containers and foil wrapping.

An adult person is responsible enough to make own choices and decisions, and for aluminum it is the time when it formed into products. Aluminium has a unique combination of properties that enables designers and manufacturers to develop different products that enhance the quality of life.

The retiring age is a time to think about past and future from a life-long perspective. For an aluminum can it is time to think about the energy saving potential of recycling the aluminum after the product has been used.

In conclusion, a used aluminum can is valuable, because it can be easily recycled, without quality loss, six times a year without loss of properties. Aluminium recycling conserves energy and other natural resources. It saves up to 95% of the energy required for primary aluminium production, thereby avoiding corresponding emissions, including greenhouse gases. Global aluminum recycling rates for beverage cans is about 60%, however, it could be increased further.

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How many aluminum cans equal 1 pound?

Aluminium Cans , ,

14525_cansIt takes approximately 31 empty aluminum cans to equal 1 pound. As of 2014, the average weight of an empty aluminum can is 14.9 grams.

One pound is equal to 453.592 grams. In order to determine the number of cans required to add up to 1 pound, it is necessary to divide the number of grams in a pound by the weight of an individual can. The quotient is equal to 30.442, meaning that it is necessary to round up to the nearest whole number which is 31.

How much does an average aluminium can weigh today?

The weight of aluminum cans can vary and has changed over time. According to the Australian Aluminum Council, the average can weighed 16.55 grams in 1992. In 2001, the average weight decreased to the weight that is the average as of 2014.

Today, aluminium cans are about 30% lighter than they were 25 years ago. Thinner, stronger sections are now being used with less metal, less energy and more savings in weight.  An average aluminium can (without its contents, of course) weighed 16.55 grams in 1992. By 2001 the aluminium can weighed about 14.9 grams. Aluminium beverage cans come in different shapes and sizes. The standard volume is 375 ml.

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How to Recycle Cans

Aluminium Cans, Company News, Recycling Acts & Stats


This article provides tips on recycling two common household items: aluminum cans and steel food cans (also known as tin cans).

There are precious metals and then there are non-precious metals. But, every recycler knows that all metals are precious. They are eminently usable and reusable; getting new metals requires destructive and expensive mining, and we will run out of them someday. It seems crazy to have such a valuable resource sitting in landfills or being destroyed in incinerators.

Both aluminum and steel are in high demand from manufacturers. For that reason, they fetch a decent price on commodity markets, and almost every community has a program for recycling them.

Aluminum cans have always been recycledfood18

The most common use for aluminum cans is holding beverages. Sodas, beer, energy drinks and more line the shelves at supermarkets and convenience stores around the country. Aluminum goes into other food storage products such as foil and pie tins, all of which can be recycled assuming they do not have too much food or grease on them. Aluminum has plenty of other uses as well, including wiring, window and picture frames, cookware and lawn chairs.

Coors Brewing Company, based in Colorado, was the first beverage company to put its beer in aluminum cans in 1959. Coors found that aluminum cans preserved flavor better. And, the company believed in recycling — consumers who returned their beer cans to the brewery received a penny for each piece.

Royal Crown Cola was the next company to buy into aluminum cans in a big way. It started packaging its RC Cola and Diet Rite brands in aluminum in 1964. One of Royal Crown’s main reasons: It was easy to print nice graphics directly on the can, which helped it increase brand awareness and market share. Aluminum was also strong enough to withstand the considerable pressure of carbonating sodas. More companies jumped on board in the 1960s and 1970s, and by the 1980s, the aluminum can was considered the king of all beverage containers.

When companies first started using aluminum cans they weighed about 3 ounces. Today, thanks to advances in technology and a concerted effort to reduce the amount of material used in packaging, the average beverage can weighs less than half an ounce.

Recycling aluminum cans

cansAluminum is made from a mined substance called bauxite. The bauxite is refined to remove aluminum oxide, a white powder with the consistency of sugar. Electricity is applied to the aluminum oxide to separate the aluminum from the oxygen. Small amounts of additional metals are mixed with the aluminum to prevent corrosion and add other beneficial characteristics. All told, it is an expensive and energy-intensive process.
According to the American Beverage Association, aluminum cans that are ready to be recycled are transported to a specialized manufacturer called a smelter. They are tested for moisture content, shredded, heated to remove any paint on the outside, and brought to their melting temperature of 1,400º F. The liquid metal is poured into bars called ingots, which can weigh up to 40,000 pounds. Each ingot is then flattened into aluminum sheets that become the raw material for cans. Those sheets, which can be more than 5 miles long, are put onto rolls and shipped to manufacturers.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to make brand-new beverage containers, but when manufacturers use recycled cans it reduces their carbon emissions by a whopping 95%.

According to the Can Manufacturers Institute, which has some nifty recycling infographics on its website, nearly 106,000 cans are recycled in America every minute. Thirteen aircraft carriers could be built from the aluminum cans recycled in 2011 (if aircraft carriers were made of solid aluminum, of course).

Modern food cans ‘tin’ food cans are steel

Today, most food cans are made of steel. Manufacturing is a highly mechanized, sterile process that involves stretching metal into the familiar cylindrical shape, stamping the ridges on them (which helps the can stand up to pressure during processing), cleaning them and using a mechanical eye to check for defects.

The inside of most cans is coated with food-grade epoxy to prevent any metal from leaching into the food. The downside to this practice: That epoxy usually contains BPA, a plastic hardener known to cause a host of health problems. And, you can’t always trust the packaging: In 2009, the nonprofit Consumers Union released a study showing that many canned foods that claimed to be BPA-free really were not.

Recycling and reusing food cans

The Can Manufacturers Institute reports that recycling steel cans saves 74% of the energy used to produce them. Taken annually, that savings is enough to power all the homes and businesses in the city of Los Angeles for eight years.

In addition, recycling a ton of cans saves more than 1 ton of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 1,200 pounds of limestone. Any way you slice it, recycling cans is a really good idea.

As with aluminum cans, it is a good idea to rinse out food cans out before recycling them. Most communities with a curbside recycling program will accept them in the bin. If they do not, search our site for a recycler in your community.

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History of Tin Food Cans

Aluminium Cans, Company News

Many people still think of food as coming in tin cans. In fact, in the U.K., canned foods are often referred to as “tinned foods.”

These days, the term “tin cans” is a misnomer. It dates almost all the way back to the invention of canning. Frenchman Nicolas Appert, who used heat to seal and preserve food for Napoleon’s army around the turn of the 16th century, was the first person to successfully can food. He was granted a 12,000-franc reward for his efforts. Englishman Peter Durand was the first person to put food in cans made of tin in 1810. His cans, which were rolled by hand, were so thick they had to be opened with a hammer or other tool.

Over time, cans transitioned to being made by machines instead of individuals. They grew thinner and, with the invention of the can opener in 1850s, easier to open. For a long time, cans were sealed with lead solder, which meant the dangerous heavy metal could leach into foods. But, that practice was abandoned long ago.

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Happy National Tin Can Day!

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As you know, there are various awareness campaigns throughout the year – everything from National Zero Waste Week (hurrah) to Vegan week to Aids awareness days. But did you know that February 19th is National Tin Can Day? It might seem a little silly to have a day in praise of the tin can, but look at how it’s increased our ability to preserve foods and where would a University student be without a tin of baked beans in their kitchen cupboard?

Tin cans

Tin cans used for food storage are usually made of tin coated steel or aluminium however, some of the early cans were sealed with lead soldering, which funnily enough, resulted in lead poisoning. The tin can was first patented in 1810. Apparently, Napoleon offered a prize for a successful method of preserving food for his armies who were getting weak due to lack of food.

Can openers

If lead poisoning isn’t enough to make the effort seem less than worthwhile, the first can opener wasn’t designed until 50 years after the first tin cans were manufactured! Back in the good old days you had to use knives, chisels or even rocks to puncture your tin and reach the delicious contents.

1 million cans a day

When the first tin cans were produced in the US, the best craftsmen could produce up to 60 can a day. Nowadays, production lines are manufacturing over one million cans per day.

Tin can recycling

Steel and aluminium cans are one of the easiest materials to recycle. Many local authorities collect them from curb sides or provide bring banks for recycling and it’s really worth the effort to recycle as many as you are able.

Metal recycling

Metals, unlike many other materials such as paper, can be recycled indefinitely without loosing any of their properties. Not only that, but the processes used to mine bauxite to make aluminium products uses a large amount of energy and corrodes the earth.  According to Tuft’s University, the mining of bauxite destroys more of the earth’s surface than the mining of any other ore.

Aluminium recycling

Recycling aluminium on the other hand, requires only 5% of the energy and produces only 5% of the CO2 emissions compared to primary production plus it reduces waste going to landfill. Aluminium can be recycled indefinitely, as reprocessing does not damage its structure. Aluminium is also the most cost-effective material to recycle.


Steel is mined from an ore which is stripped in a blast furnace to reduce it to pig iron that can then be used in steel production. Each household uses approximately 600 steel cans per year and just one recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.

Can recycling

  • 51,000 tonnes of aluminium ends up as packaging in the US each year.
  • If all cans in the United States were recycled, we would need 14 million fewer dustbins.
  • $49,075,200.00 worth of aluminium is thrown away each year.
  • Aluminium cans can be recycled and ready to use in just 6 weeks.

Recycle your cans

So there we go – the use of tin cans for food storage has made our food cupboards unrecognisable from 150 years ago. Remember that next time you tuck into some backed beans or a delightful tin of Spam and remember to recycle your cans too!

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