That Can-Do Spirit

What better way is there to celebrate America Recycles Day than with a good, old-fashioned recycling competition? Last Nov. 15, the Aluminum Can Council (ACC), a partnership between the Washington-based Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and the Washington-based Aluminum Association, hosted the second annual Aluminum Can Challenge for aluminum sheet and can facilities nationwide. The event helped save approximately 122,910 pounds of aluminum from being tossed and raised $88,923 for charities, ACC recently announced.

Robert Budway, president of CMI, says ACC started the competition as a way to increase recycling rates and demonstrate the council's commitment to keeping aluminum out of landfills. “The employees should be recycling and helping promote recycling in their communities,” he says.

This year, more than 15,000 employees from 65 facilities joined in the friendly, yet heated, competition. The winner was determined by the average number of cans brought in per employee at each location. Participants were allowed to include cans collected from the facilities and their communities in their final count. The cans were given to local recycling facilities or scrap dealers, who weighed and paid for the cans. The proceeds went to charities, including the United Way, Make-a-Wish Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.

“It was very competitive between plants and companies, surprisingly so,” Budway says. He adds that some plant managers already have promised revenge at next year's competition.

The Rexam Beverage Can Americas plant in Fremont, Ohio, which worked with locally based Burns Recycling, won the competition with 33,542 pounds of aluminum cans, or 294 pounds per employee. The $5,500 they raised was donated to the Sandusky County, Ohio, Habitat for Humanity. Second place was claimed by the Rexam plant in Whitehouse, Ohio, with 5,347 pounds. Crown Cork & Seal's Winter Garden, Fla., plant placed third with 3,940 pounds.

ACC promoted the contest by sending memos to the companies' CEOs and materials to the plants about to how to collect and measure the cans. It also posted America Recycles Day marketing materials on its Web site.

CMI, the trade association for the metal and composite can manufacturing industry and its suppliers, also promotes recycling with efforts such as studies on curbside recycling and educational material that is sent to fourth and seventh grade teachers. The Aluminum Association serves as the trade association for primary aluminum and semi-fabricated aluminum products producers, as well as recyclers and industry suppliers.