Why cans? Cans fill best, add pizzazz’ to practicality, chill faster, colder to the touch on hot summer days, stack best, are the most recycled and recyclable container, lightweight and volume efficient, maintains freshness, protects content from light, tamper evident, long shelf life environmentally friendly, and rigid and unbreakable. Cans protect its contents ensuring uniformity of product quality. Your favorite beverage or canned food will taste the same whether bought in Oregon or Florida, Maine or California. Cans are also used to store fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and ready-to-eat meals giving us access to nutritious, even exotic, foods year round.

Can you share some facts about the can industry? The can industry contributes more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy by providing jobs, paying taxes and purchasing local goods and services. Approximately 131 billion cans are produced each year in the United States. There are more than 170 can manufacturing plants in 36 states. More than 26,000 Americans are directly employed by the can industry.

How many types of cans are manufactured? Today there are more than 600 sizes and styles of cans being manufactured. Types of cans include 2-piece aluminum beverage cans, round composite cans, round sanitary open top, aerosol, drawn tins, friction plug style (paint), key opening, screw top, plastic top (cone tops and other configurations), slip cover, oblong cans (easy opening, edible oil type, hinged cover, household machine oil, key opening, spice type, solvent style), and square cans (five gallon and smaller).

What is the definition of a metal can? A metal can is a single-walled container constructed wholly of tinplate, blackplate (including tin-free steel), waste plate, aluminum sheet or impact extrusions, designed for packaging products. It excludes steel pails defined as single-walled shipping containers having capacities of one to 12 gallons inclusive that are cylindrically constructed of steel of 29 gauges and heavier.

Where can I find information on prices and/or projections for sales or market trends? The Can Manufacturers Institute does not have information on prices or makes projections on future market trends for anti-trust reasons. Historical can shipment data for beverage can, food can and general line can shipments is available on our “Industry Statistics” page. Investment banking firms and stock brokerage firm libraries often have publications such as Value Line, Standard & Poors or their own industry investment research, data and analysis that might be helpful to your research.

What is the most recycled container? Steel and aluminum cans by far -- not plastic or glass. The recycling of cans outpaced the recycling of all other containers. Steel cans lead the way with a recycling rate of 63 percent followed by aluminum cans with a recycling rate of 52 percent. Recycling pays and is a win win for the environment and a sustainable society. All cans are recyclable and the industry is actively working to increase the recycling rate through partnerships, education outreaches, contests, and free education curriculums.

What is the most valuable container commodity in the recycling bin? The dollar value goes to aluminum cans. Aluminum is the only packaging material that it more than covers the cost of collection and re-processing for itself and subsidizes other containers including plastic and glass.

How much money can be made by recycling beverage cans? How does $800 million paid by the industry to recyclers for their beverage cans sound? At a 52 percent recycling rate, there are cans waiting to be recycled. Opportunity knocks to generate revenue for schools, scouts, clubs, or yourself. Consider a used beverage can worth one to two cents and how you can turn cans into cash for your community.

How do you prepare cans for recycling? Containers should be empty, clean and dry. Aluminum cans can be rinsed before recycling. For steel cans, place the lids inside the cans and recycle the entire can. Many curbside programs accept empty aerosol cans which should not be pierced or crushed nor be marked with hazardous labels. Full or partially full paint cans of solvent-based paint or cans or other containers bearing hazardous labels should be collected through municipality household hazardous waste collection programs which should be supported. Municipalities are able to abide by applicable regulatory requirements. Paint is emptied from paint cans, dried and either processed for end market consumption or mixed at the material recovery facility with other steel cans collected from curbside or drop-off programs. Often times, the paint is made available for reuse.

How do communities collect cans for recycling? Cans are collected through curbside programs, drop-off locations, multi-recovery facility, buy-back centers, reverse vending machines, and deposit schemes depending on the each community’s needs, making it easy and convenient to recycle your cans. Once inside the recycling network, a new aluminum can be back on the store shelf in as few as 60 days.

What is the difference between closed-loop recycling and open-loop recycling? The closed-loop recycling process represents recycling at its finest—remanufacturing a product back into the same product—like an aluminum beverage can which can be recycled into a new aluminum beverage can endlessly. The steel and iron industries use available steel scrap (old cars, construction materials, appliances, aerosol cans, etc.) combined with other steel scrap and then melted in a furnace to make new steel from old for new steel products. This enables the industry to utilize the closest smelter.

How many beverage cans were recycled in 2005? In 2005, the aluminum beverage can recycling rate was 52 percent with 51.4 billion cans recycled--enough aluminum cans to conserve the energy equivalent of over 15 million barrels of oil.

What are some of the benefits of aluminum can recycling? Recycling one aluminum beverage can save enough electricity to: power a TV for three hours, or a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. Recycling 40 aluminum beverage cans has the energy-saving equivalent of one gallon of gasoline. It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than to start at the beginning mining the bauxite. Recycling that beverage can reduces effluents and emissions by 95 percent creating a more sustainable future.

What is the steel can’s recycling success story? Steel cans are recycled at a rate of 63 percent. Two out of three pounds of new steel are produced from old steel. Through recycling steel, the industry conserves enough energy to power about 18 million homes for 12 months. An every ton of steel recycled saves the natural resources that would otherwise be used to make new steel: 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. Consumers can recycle their food cans as well as their paint and aerosol cans.

Where are local recycling centers located that will purchase my cans? To find local buy-back centers, go to www.earth911.org and type in your zip code. The zip code search will provide a listing of community, municipal and drop-off recycling programs first -- they want the value of your cans – followed by a listing buy-back centers including their address, telephone number, commodities purchased, operation hours, and approximate distance. Recycling centers pay the highest prices for clean, dry aluminum cans. Used cans are traded as a commodity. Prices will vary from one day to another and center to center. Some centers will pay more if they know the funds are for a non-profit organization. Call ahead to double check hours and also inquire if they pay more for quantities such as 100 pounds or 500 pounds recycled at one time. Buy-back centers might even be able to assist with your recycling program.

How much is a used beverage can worth? Cans are traded as a commodity and have value. For the sake of estimating how much you or your group can make recycling aluminum cans, use one to two cents per can as your multiplier.

How many varieties of food are available in cans? There are more than 1,500 varieties of food available in cans ranging from single serve to family-size portions. Cans provide the perfect package at mealtime and they retain as many and often more nutrients than their fresh produce department counterparts.

How many aluminum beverage cans are in a pound? There are 34.21 cans per pound.

When was the first canned soft drink manufactured? Cliquot Club ginger ale was the first canned soft drink debuted in 1938. Delivering the soda was a cone top can produced by Continental Can Company. Design improvements continued and in 1948 Continental Can and Pepsi-Cola launched the first major rollout of soft drinks in cans. The can carried 12-ounces of refreshment and sold for ten cents.

When and what company introduced a twelve-pack of cans? Twelve-packs were first introduced in 1972 by Pepsi-Cola, delivering more volume, more efficiently to consumers. Since then, thirsty consumers have the option of buying cans packed in multiples of 4, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 cans.

When did vending machines start serving canned soft drinks? Canned soft drinks were first dispensed in vending machines in 1961, joining glass bottle and paper cup machines, and by the late 1960s canned soft drinks dominated the vending market.

Is it my imagination or is the beverage can getting lighter in weight? Through industry source reduction, aluminum beverage can continue to become lighter in weight. There are 34.21 beverage cans to a pound. Compare the 2006 number of cans per pound of aluminum to 1972 when one pound of aluminum yielded 21.75 cans. The first two-piece aluminum cans weighed three ounces, while they now weigh less than one-half ounce. Even the can ends have been made lighter: ends used to weigh about 8.12 pounds per thousand and have been reduced to a mere 6.07 pounds per thousand. This may not seem like much of a difference, but multiplied by the 100 billion cans that are made each year, the weight savings is a phenomenal 200 million pounds of aluminum. Technology and aluminum make it possible to use less and still deliver the quality product you deserve and expect.

When did canned beer enter the market place? The first can of beer was sold January 24, 1935 in Richmond, Virginia. It was brewed by Kreuger Beer and came in a steel can made by the American Can Company. This tall cold one—a flat or punch top can—required a can opener. By August of that year, Pabst had become the first major brewer to add canned beer to its regular product line. In September 1935 Schliltzlager and Heilman Lager introduced the cone top can made by the Continental Can Company.

Is a steel can the same as a tin can? Tin cans have been replaced by tin-free steel which is given a thin tin coating, usually as thin as a human hair, to prevent rusting. Protective coatings applied to the inside of the cans ensure the integrity of the contents and have allowed cans to hold many products, such as acidic fruits, which would otherwise be too corrosive. Technologies for both tin-free steel and aluminum have added even more flexibility and versatility to today’s can.

Are there clubs for can collectors? Yes! The Brewery Collectibles Club of America has over 5,000 members nation-wide that make beer cans their passion. The group was founded in St. Louis in 1970 and holds regular “Canventions” that draw more than 1,000 collectors and over one million cans. Some enthusiasts have collected as many as 12,000 vintage beer cans.