History of Copper

Company News, Recycling Acts & Stats

Copper has been an essential material to man since pre-historic times. In fact, one of the major “ages” or stages of human history is named for a copper alloy, bronze. Copper and its many alloys have played an important role in many civilizations, from the ancient Egyptians, Romans to modern day cultures around the world. Here, you will find a number of reference materials detailing the role that copper has played throughout human civilization for thousands of years.

Copper in the USA: Bright Future – Glorious Past

Copper was first used by man over 10,000 years ago. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq has been dated about 8700 B.C. For nearly five millennia copper was the only metal known to man, and thus had all the metal applications.

Early copper artifacts, first decorative, then utilitarian, were undoubtedly hammered out from “native copper,” pure copper found in conjunction with copper-bearing ores in a few places around the world. By 5000 BC, the dawn of metallurgy had arrived, as evidence exists of the smelting of simple copper oxide ores such as malachite and azurite.

Not until about 4000 BC did gold appear on the scene as man’s second metal. By 3000 B.C., silver and lead were being used and the alloying of copper had begun, first with arsenic and then with tin. For many centuries, bronze reigned supreme, being used for plows, tools of all kinds, weapons, armor, and decorative objects. Though copper came from the island of Cyprus-from whence its name-and numerous other sites in the Middle East, the origin of the tin in the bronze is still a mystery.

The Bronze Age suddenly ended at about 1200 BC, with the general collapse of the ancient world and the interruption of international trade routes. The supply of tin in particular dried up and the Iron Age was ushered in, not because iron was a superior material, but because it was widely available. The deliberate alloying of iron with carbon to form the first steels did not occur for centuries.

Economy in the use of copper and its alloys was necessitated by these early trade interruptions, and this efficiency in use and re-use has continued from that day to this.

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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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Recycle USA Resources Fundraising

Community Involvement, Company News

Recycle USA FundraiserRecycle USA, Inc. understands the importance of actively participating in the Community.  Want us to come-up with fun creative and engaging ideas to raise money for your cause?  Want us to host and plan a fund-raising event using recycling to generate money for your organization?

Call or send us an email:

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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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The Environmental Benefits Of Recycling Auto Parts

Company News, News & Events

carRecycling is a way of life for many these days; nearly any material can be recycled or reused in one way or another. Old automobiles are certainly no exception to this rule, and recycling them provides a number of benefits to the environment—and the wallet.


Immediate Environmental Benefits

Nearly every automobile manufactured today—anywhere in the world—has a frame that is constructed of steel. If that steel were recycled, imagine the amount of iron ore that could be saved for future endeavors. Also, since coal is required to refine iron ore into steel, every ton of steel that is recycled from old automobiles saves nearly a half ton of coal. Aside from this, the limestone that must be destroyed to mine that coal is also spared; this protects precious resources and saves time, energy and ultimately money. Recycling the fluids and materials found in old automobiles also drastically reduces the amount of waste in landfills and prevents dangerous chemicals from seeping into groundwater.

Greenhouse Gases

Recycling steel prevents the need to manufacture new steel; this reduces the need to refine iron ore and transform it into the steel that creates new cars. It is much more energy efficient to simply melt down the old steel and re-mold it than to mine for iron ore, transport it to a refinery and then use massive amounts of energy to create the steel. Coal-burning plants and refineries are the largest contributors to greenhouse gases in the environment, second only to the gasoline and diesel burning automobiles that are on the streets and highways of the world today. Even a slight reduction—recycling only one automobile—can immediately reduce the amount of these gases in the air.

Reusing Parts

There is more to protecting the environment than simply recycling used materials. The famous slogan, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” reminds everyone that reducing the amount of non-sustainable materials they consume and reusing those that cannot be avoided is just as important as recycling. As such, many salvage yards go to great lengths in order to harvest parts from wrecked and junk automobiles that can be repaired and resold for later use. Most accidents do not destroy every part in an automobile; there are usually at least a dozen salvageable parts on any car. Selling a used or wrecked car to a salvage yard puts money in the pocket of the consumer and protects the environment for future generations.

Long-Term Environmental Benefits

The more people who recycle their vehicles in order to preserve the environment and earn some extra cash, the more people that will eventually follow suit. It is hoped that automobile recycling will become the norm someday and thus greatly reduce the number of rusty, unusable vehicles found in junkyards and landfills all over the world. Even one automobile recycled per lifetime by every single American would prevent more than a billion tons of dangerous greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

There are many benefits to be had when it comes to automobile recycling including extra money, reducing the number of fossil fuels and ores that are consumed and even preventing greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Recycling old automobiles is a great way to preserve the environment today and for years to come.

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