Aluminum can recycling rates remain stagnant throughout the United States

The United States was a recycling success story with nowhere to go but up in 1994, when the country boasted a 65 percent aluminum can recycling rate that year. Oddly enough, more than 15 years later, this number has dropped slightly to 58 percent in 2010 with many industry insiders wondering why the drop has occurred. According to, in 2008, an aluminum industry trade group set the goal of a 75 percent can recycling rate by 2015, but it appears that the U.S. rate will continue to hover around 60 percent in the foreseeable future.

For beverage manufacturers, aluminum cans are the ideal container for their goods, as they can be remade into new cans almost indefinitely using much less energy than cans made from scratch. The reduced cost of shipping due to their low weight is also a benefit for manufacturers. With these advantages in mind, it's surprising that consumers have been recycling less, especially when the numbers are stark compared to other large countries.

Recycling experts point to examples such as Japan, which has achieved a 92 percent recycling rate for aluminum cans. Brazil also boasts an impressive recycling rate, and its government believes that a 100 percent recycling rate is certainly possible. While these countries are certainly different than the U.S., it shows that an improvement is certainly possible.

With the growing number of recycling receptacles being set up in urban areas around the United States, it's hard to say what will spark another surge in the recycling rate. Ultimately, it will involve citizens doing their part to avoid the easy way out and recycle their used cans responsibly. Taking this extra step can help to create a greener environment and hopefully return recycling rates to their previous highs.