Aluminum Can Recycling
If you had to guess which country was the leader in aluminum can recycling, would you have guessed Brazil? Maybe not, but this South American country is actually setting the bar for aluminum can recycling with an astounding 96.5% of cans in the country finding a way into a recycling center. Although Brazilians should be commended for being the world leader in aluminum can recycling in 2010, the country has actually held the number one spot for nine straight years, according to the Inter Press Service. What is even more amazing than holding the top spot for so many years is the drastic difference between recycling in Brazil and the U.S. In 2006, aluminum can recycling in the U.S. was only 52%. During the same year, it was 94.4% in Brazil. One of the contributing factors to Brazil’s high recycling rate is the fact that hundreds of thousands of Brazilians rely on the income generated by aluminum can recycling on a daily basis. Approximately 180,000 Brazilians collect cans daily across the country. The cans are picked up off the street, retrieved from garbage cans and picked up from local restaurants and bars. In 2009, 14 billion cans were recycled throughout the country. Brazil’s spot at the top is well earned. A look back at past figures really helps paint a better picture at how hard the country has worked to achieve the 96.5% recycling rate:
  • 2001: 9 billion cans were recycled for an 85% recycling rate
  • 2003: 8.2 billion cans were recycled for an 89% recycling rate
  • 2006: 10.3 billion cans were recycled for a 94.4% recycling rate
  • 2008: 12.3 billion cans were recycled for a 91.5% recycling rate
As you can see, the recycling rate took a dip in 2008, but it is back up today and closing in on 100%. It looks like the U.S. can take a lesson in aluminum can recycling from Brazil.