Aluminum company Novelis Inc. announced today that it recycled an estimated 39 billion aluminum beverage cans in the past year, a new company record. Novelis is the world's largest producer of flat-rolled aluminum and the world's leading recycler of used beverage cans.
By recycling the used containers back into aluminum sheet for new cans, the company estimates it reduced its need for primary aluminum by more than 530,000 metric tons, saving approximately 73 million MBTUs of energy and avoiding the production of nearly 5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
"The environmental benefit of aluminum recycling is enormous," said Nick Madden, vice president of global procurement and metal management for Novelis. "Not only does it reduce the need for the mining of natural resources, but it eliminates large amounts of emissions generated through primary production. The GHGs avoided through our can recycling program over the past year is the equivalent of taking more than 900,000 gasoline-powered automobiles off the road for 12 months."
Used beverage cans account for approximately half of all aluminum scrap processed by Novelis each year. Aluminum products from automobile parts to building materials can be recycled using just five percent of the energy required to produce the same amount of new aluminum from raw materials. Aluminum is one of the most recycled products on the planet.
"When people look for ways to help the planet and reduce their carbon footprint, one easy thing they can do is make sure their empty cans go into the recycling box, not the garbage bin," said Madden. "Every aluminum can that is recycled saves enough energy to run a television set for three hours, and there is no limit to the number of times it can go around the recycling loop."
Novelis recycles aluminum cans on four continents. The company's plant in Berea, Kentucky, is the largest dedicated can recycling facility in the world, and its U.K. and Brazil plants are the largest in Europe and South America, respectively. In the past year, Novelis increased its recycling capability worldwide by extending its can recycling efforts into South Korea and nearly doubling its recycling capacity in Brazil.
"Recycling is central to our efforts to make our products more environmentally efficient," said Madden," and it is also a strategic source of metal for our rolling mills. We will continue to seek ways to promote recycling and grow this part of our business."
To help measure the potential benefits of aluminum recycling in U.S. communities, Novelis provides a recycling calculator on its web site. Visitors can enter the population number for their community to see the potential economic and energy savings if all aluminum cans were recycled.