A standout in the bin
Karen Youso, Star Tribune
What is sleek and modern, smooth and shiny, and sought out by the multitudes?
Would you believe the aluminum can? It's a recycling star.
A can goes from empty in your recycling bin to full of pop again in about 60 days.
And it can do this endlessly. The aluminum can never wears out or loses its shine or durability. Each reincarnation uses just 3 percent of the energy it would take to make the can from new aluminum.
Each aluminum can may only be worth about a penny, but those cans add up quickly. Squished together into a bale, they are worth about $1,200.
The road show begins when those bales leave a recycling sorting center near you and travel to Kentucky for processing. There, turned into aluminum sheets, they are coiled into gigantic rolls, like toilet paper, and are sent back to Rexam Beverage Can Americas Inc., the only pop-can factory in Minnesota.
Rexam pumps out 1,550 cans a minute. That's about 2 billion cans a year, or enough for about 83 million 24-packs of pop. The cans then travel to beverage companies, where they're filled, then sent across the country to stores, vending machines and wherever people buy pop. Back in that recycling bin once more, the process begins again.
Karen Youso is at email@example.com.