All cans are recyclable, but you need to make sure you’re recycling them correctly.
Fortunately, all-metal cans — including aluminum and steel — are infinitely recyclable and, according to the American and Iron Steel Institute, more than 90% of the co-products from the steelmaking process are reused or recycled. That’s the good news. But if you’re not recycling the right way, you risk contaminating an entire batch of recyclable materials.
Since metals are nonrenewable natural resources (they can’t be replaced as quickly as they’re used), they’re limited in supply, which is why it’s important to recycle your cans. What’s more, metals can be recycled over and over without the material losing quality.
Here’s how to recycle your metal cans, and what not to do. But first, it’s worth contacting your local recycling center to learn the best procedures for recycling metal cans. Some may ask that you bring the cans directly to the recycling center, rather than placing them in your recycling bin.
All metal cans are recyclable, but examples include:
Don’t do this: Toss cans into the recycling bin before cleaning. If foods or liquids are left in the cans, it can contaminate an entire batch of recyclables.
Do this instead: Make sure all cans are clear of liquids or foods that could be left in the container. You can do this by rinsing the can when you’re finished with it.
Also, ask your local recycling center to see if you need to remove the paper labels from the can or if it’s part of their process.
Canned goods: Don’t remove the lid only halfway before placing it into the recycling bin. Instead, completely remove the lid from the can and place it inside the can (after rinsing, of course).
Aerosol cans: Lids on aerosol cans are typically plastic, so you should remove those before putting the cans into the bin. The plastic lids should go with other plastic recyclables.