Aluminum Beverage Cans: Driver of the U.S. Recycling System

With funding from Ardagh Group and Crown Holdings, CMI, in partnership with The Recycling Partnership, has launched an aluminum beverage can capture grant program. The grants will fund eddy currents, robots and other equipment or process improvement activities to capture used beverage cans at Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). For more information, see the press releases and request for proposals that are linked below. 

Read press release below for our most recent announcement.



Also look below for more information on the CMI research that motivated this grant program as it found up to 25% of aluminum beverage cans entering U.S. recycling centers are missorted.

New research powerfully underlines the value that aluminum used beverage cans (UBC) bring to America’s recycling system.  A study conducted by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (GBB) for the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), Aluminum Beverage Can: Driver of the U.S. Recycling System, found that the relatively high value of UBCs make them essential to the country’s network of materials recovery facilities (MRF). In fact, the report found that without the revenue from UBCs, most MRFs in the United States would not be able to operate without making significant changes that would ultimately affect the cost of recycling to consumers.



“In 2018, about 13 million metric tons of metal went to the landfill and were unrecovered. Of that 13 million tons about 1.5 million tons were aluminum used beverage cans. At current commodity values, that’s a $1 billion opportunity that’s being missed.” - Jon Powell, Vice President, Closed Loop Partners

“Ultimately, we are processing more tons per hour, which allows for a better return on investment. We estimate that this upgrade decreased the contamination of containers in our paper by 50%.- Kate Davenport, Co-President, Eureka Recycling

“We have a robot on our residue line that has been programmed specifically to prioritize high-value materials such as used beverage cans.” - John Hansen, Co-Owner, Single Stream Recyclers

“Once a can starts to get flattened either in a “pancake” or a “puck,” it may end up on the residue or paper line. This material is sent to the landfill or ends up as a contaminant in the paper bale. In this scenario, the MRF is ultimately either paying to throw the cans away or creating lower-quality paper bales.” - Jeff Lacey, Senior Staff Scientist, Idaho National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

“If an average MRF processes 50,000 tons per year of recyclables in a non-bottle bill state, that could mean that MRF is losing 275 tons of UBCs in a year. This comes out to 18.5 million cans and nearly $300,000 in lost revenue, which would be about 8.3 percent of that MRF’s gross revenue stream.” - Corinne Rico, Project Manager, Gershman, Brickner & Bratton

“Aluminum producers and can makers are able to easily turn used beverage cans into new aluminum cans that have a low environmental footprint because of the high amount of recycled content.” - Scott Breen, Vice President for Sustainability, Can Manufacturers Institute

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Breen, VP of Sustainability, CMI |