Counting Cans

According to a recently released study, the aluminum can recycling rate in 2006 was almost identical to the previous year. The study, a joint effort of the Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), revealed that the recycling rate in 2006 dipped slightly to 51.6 percent from 52 percent in 2005.

“I think it's a bit understated,” says Bob Garino, director of commodities for ISRI, when asked about the rate staying relatively constant. Garino says the next step is to increase the accuracy of the annual survey to account for the cans being recycled that have not been factored into previous surveys. A portion of the cans not represented are sent to secondary smelters or exported after being processed. “Every year we do try to close the gap,” he says.

Despite the rate remaining steady, both the total numbers of cans produced and the number recycled increased in 2006. Out of the 100.6 billion cans produced in 2006, 51.9 billion were recycled, compared to the 98.9 billion produced and 51.4 billion recycled in 2005.

Garino says a major factor in the increased volume has been the steady rise of the price of aluminum. Since 2003, the price of aluminum per pound has increased from $0.65 to its current price of $1.25, according to the London Metal Exchange, which is the price index used by ISRI.

“Despite the modest year-over-year growth, the report shows an increase in the volume of recycled cans,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, in a press release.