Transforming bauxite and iron ore into aluminum and steel is an energy-intensive process. However, because it does not require mining, refining and especially smelting processes, recycling reduces the energy needed for primary metal production by 74 percent for steel and up to 95 percent for aluminum, and reduces GHG emissions accordingly. No matter the application for which recycled metal is used, recycling a metal product reduces the need for an equal amount of more energy-intensive virgin metal, also saving resources and landfill space.

Whether or not a packaging material will be recycled into a new product (rather than collected and then landfilled or incinerated) depends on various factors such as the use of composite materials, how the package behaves in a material recovery facility and the existence of a viable end-market. According to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, for example, only 14 percent of plastic packaging globally is collected for recycling. Due to additional value losses in sorting and reprocessing, 8 percent is recycled into lower-value applications and only 2 percent of plastic packaging is actually recycled to its equivalent value.

Metal cans, however, are easily separated from other materials, either through magnets or through “eddy current” technology that efficiently captures aluminum. In addition, empty cans have the highest economic value of all packaging materials and demand for secondary metal far exceeds the supply. Recycling is an essential part of metal packaging’s life cycle.  Overall, cans represent a perfect example of truly recyclable packaging and a product that fits a circular economy model very well.


Metal cans are the most recycled containers in the world. In several countries, such as Brazil, China, Germany and Switzerland, aluminum beverage can and steel packaging recycling rates are at or above 90 percent. However, collection programs in some other countries are less effective and that is where we focus our support. 

The metal containers we manufacture are collected through multiple channels, such as local government recycling programs (e.g. curbside), industry recovery efforts and our direct recovery initiatives. The most convenient program for consumers typically is curbside recycling, where all common household recyclables are collected at the curb, requiring only the separation of materials into recycling bins. Because most collection systems are locally managed, a tremendous amount of variation can occur and is challenging.

Though many believe that local governments are responsible for collecting and recovering packaging materials, they in many cases do not have the funding to develop and maintain eff
ective recovery programs. And recovery programs depend on reliable markets for recycled materials and sufficient revenues to offset collection and processing costs. Because metal cans are the most valuable packaging container in the recycling stream, they often subsidize the recovery of other packages with little or no value.

Higher recycling rates help make economies more resource efficient, encourage job creation, reduce packaging’s environmental impact, help realize governments’ environmental expectations, and thereby directly benefit our customers, retailers and the metal packaging industry. All stakeholders involved in packaging collection and recycling, including material and packaging suppliers, consumer brands, local governments, waste haulers and recyclers, have a specific interest and, therefore, a role in helping improve recycling rates. That is why we utilize multi-stakeholder partnerships to enhance packaging collection and recycling.


North America

South America