UBC Recycling Rate Tops 65 Percent

UBC Recycling Rate Tops 65 Percent

Associations say 61 billion cans were recycled in 2011.

August 28, 2012
Recycling Today Staff

The Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) have announced that the domestic recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans (UBC) reached 65.1 percent in 2011, a sharp increase from 2010’s recycling rate of 58.1 percent. 

UBC Recycling Rate
  2010 2011 Percent Change
Total UBCs (in pounds)
Reclaimed and Melted
1.63 Billion 1.76 Billion 8.1
Imported 262.77 Million 329.7 Million 25.5
Exported 61.73 Million 92.79 Million 50.3


34.33 34.57  

Estimated Cans Collected
by U.S. Can Industry for Recycling 

55.94 Billion 60.91 Billion 8.9
Reported U.S. Manufactured
Can Shipments
96.29 Billion 93.63 Billion -2.8
Estimated Recycling Rate 58.10% 65.10% 7%

"We are excited to have made strong progress toward our goal to increase the aluminum can recycling rate to 75 percent,” says Heidi Brock, president of the Aluminum Association, “but we need the help of every American to continue to raise the rate. There is much more work still to be done here in the United States to reach our goal by 2015."

Robert Budway, CMI president, says, "We are thrilled about the continued growth in aluminum can recycling rates. Metal can be used forever if we keep it out of landfills, and higher recycling rates benefit the economy, people and the planet, optimizing the can's environmental footprint. We thank consumers for recognizing the can's value in the recycling stream and helping us to maintain the can's endless recycling loop."

Joe Pickard, chief economist at ISRI, adds, "As the first link in the supply chain, the scrap recycling industry is dedicated to meeting manufacturing's vital raw materials needs, including the growing demand for recycled aluminum and used beverage containers (UBCs) while serving as an environmental steward. In 2011, aluminum recovered from purchased scrap in the United States increased 8 percent to more than 3 million metric tons, while at the same time total U.S. aluminum scrap exports rose 12 percent to more than 2.1 million tons."

According to the associations, the increase in the recycling rate was largely because of UBC imports, which increased by about 25 percent in 2010. Because of high demand for UBCs in the United States, the aluminum industry purchases UBCs from Mexico, Canada and other countries, as many cans get shipped to those countries.