Aluminum Can Recycling Impact Calculator - Calculation Explanations and Sources

Below is an explanation of the calculations utilized in the Aluminum Beverage Can Recycling Impact Calculator and the sources accompanying the impact metrics.

Absolute Impact | Economic Impact | Energy Savings | C02e Emissions Avoided  


Absolute Impact

MEGAJOULES SAVED

Formula:

[Energy savings per kilogram of aluminum recycling in megajoules] / [grams in a kilogram] * [Grams of metal in average beverage can] * [estimated yield of aluminum recycling]

126.5 / 1000 * 13 * 0.94 = 1.6

Explanation:

The energy savings per kilogram of aluminum recycling in megajoules comes from the Aluminum Association’s (AA) semi-fabricated life cycle analysis (LCA). AA’s most recent semi-fabricated LCA gives the energy savings because it finds that the difference between the cradle-to-gate footprint of primary aluminum ingot (135.7) and recycled ingot (9.2) is 126.5. For purposes of this calculator, the assumption is no energy is lost in transit so 100% of the energy savings is usable energy. Then divide by 1,000 to get the per kilogram energy saved by aluminum recycling to per gram. That is multiplied by 13 to get the energy saved by using recycled aluminum per can since there is about 13 grams of metal in the average aluminum beverage can. The last step is multiplying by 0.94 since that is the roughly estimated yield of aluminum recycling.

Sources:

  • Energy savings per kilogram of aluminum recycling in megajoules | Aluminum Association 2021 semi-fabricated LCA (will be published online in September 2021)
  • Grams of metal in average beverage can | TBD
  • Estimated yield of aluminum recycling | Aluminum Association 2021 aluminum beverage can LCA

KILOWATT-HOURS SAVED

Formula:

[Energy savings per kilogram of aluminum recycling in megajoules] / [megajoules in a kilowatt] / [grams in a kilogram] * [Grams of metal in average beverage can] * [estimated yield of aluminum recycling]

126.5 / 3.6 / 1000 * 13 * 0.94 = 0.4

Explanation:

The energy savings per kilogram of aluminum recycling in megajoules comes from the Aluminum Association’s (AA) semi-fabricated life cycle analysis (LCA). AA’s most recent semi-fabricated LCA gives the energy savings because it finds that the difference between the cradle-to-gate footprint of primary aluminum ingot (135.7) and recycled ingot (9.2) is 126.5. For purposes of this calculator, assume no energy is lost in transit so 100% of the energy savings is usable energy. Then divide by 3.6 to convert the energy savings to electricity. This is because 3.6 megajoules is equal to 1 kilowatt hour. Then divide by 1,000 to get the per kilogram electricity saved by aluminum recycling to per gram. That is multiplied by 13 to get the electricity saved by using recycled aluminum per can since there is about 13 grams of metal in the average aluminum beverage can. The last step is multiplying by 0.94 since that is the roughly estimated yield of aluminum recycling.

Sources:

  • Energy savings per kilogram of aluminum recycling in megajoules | Aluminum Association 2021 semi-fabricated LCA (will be published online in September 2021)
  • Grams of metal in average beverage can | Can Manufacturers Institute data based on survey of can manufacturers
  • Estimated yield of aluminum recycling | Aluminum Association 2021 aluminum beverage can LCA

GRAMS OF CO2e AVOIDED

Formula:

[(Carbon footprint of primary metal, per gram) – (Carbon footprint of recycled aluminum, per gram)] * [Grams of metal in average beverage can] * [estimated yield of aluminum recycling]

[8.52-0.53] * 13 * 0.94 = 97.6

Explanation:

The carbon footprint of primary metal per gram (8.52), and the carbon footprint of recycled aluminum per gram (0.53) come from the Aluminum Association’s (AA) semi-fabricated life cycle analysis (LCA). By subtracting the carbon footprint of the primary metal by the carbon footprint of recycled aluminum gets the emissions avoided by using recycled aluminum, per gram. That is multiplied by 13 to get the emissions avoided by using recycled aluminum per can since there is about 13 grams of metal in the average aluminum beverage can. The last step is multiplying by 0.94 since that is the roughly estimated yield of aluminum recycling.

Sources:

  • Carbon footprint of primary metal, per gram and recycled aluminum, per gram | Aluminum Association 2021 semi-fabricated LCA (will be published online in September 2021)
  • Grams of metal in average beverage can | Can Manufacturers Institute data based on survey of can manufacturers
  • Estimated yield of aluminum recycling | Aluminum Association 2021 aluminum beverage can LCA


Economic Impact

ECONOMIC VALUE WHEN SOLD

[Metric ton value of beverage cans 2019] / [(pound in a metric ton) * (cans per pound)]

[$1,210] / [2204.62 * 33.83] = 0.02

Explanation:

The value per ton of aluminum beverage cans is $1,210. Divide that by the amount of cans in a metric ton to get the value per beverage can recycled. Get the amount of cans in a metric ton by multiplying 2,204.62, the number of pounds in a metric ton, by 33.83, the amount of cans per pound.

Sources:


Energy Savings

HOURS CAN POWER A U.S. HOME

Formula:

[[(Pounds of beverage cans available for recycling) * (estimated yield of aluminum recycling) * (pounds to kilograms) * (per kilogram of aluminum recycling energy savings equal to electricity in kWh) / (U.S. average household electricity consumption in kWh)] * (days in a year) * (hours in a day)] / [(Pounds of beverage cans shipped in one year) * (estimated yield of aluminum recycling) * (Beverage cans per pound)]

[(Homes can power for one year if all aluminum beverage cans available for recycling are recycled) * (days in a year) * (hours in a day)] / [(Pounds of beverage cans available for recycling accounting for yield loss) * (Beverage cans per pound)]

[Homes can power per hour if all beverage cans available for recycling are recycled] / [Total number of beverage cans available for recycling]

[[2,741,000,000 *0.94 * 0.4536 * 35.139 / 11,000] * 365 *24] / [2,741,000,000 *0.94 * 33.83]

[3,733,418 * 365 *24 ] / [2,576,540,000 * 33.83 ]

[32,704,741,680 / [87,164,348,200] = 0.4

Explanation:

There are several components to the calculation to get the homes that can be powered for one year if all aluminum beverage cans are recycled. The pounds of beverage cans available for recycling is multiplied by the pounds to kilograms conversion factor so that the per kilogram of aluminum recycling energy savings equal to electricity can be used to calculate the total electricity savings from all beverage cans shipped assuming they were all recycled. The pounds of beverage cans available for recycling is also multiplied by the estimated yield of aluminum recycling since not all of those pounds will be included in a new product given the tiny losses involved in the recycling process. The per kilogram of aluminum recycling energy savings equal to electricity in kWh is calculated by taking the difference between the cradle-to-gate footprint of primary aluminum ingot (135.7) and recycled ingot (9.2) of 126.5 and dividing it by the conversion factor of kilowatt hours to megajoules of 3.6 megajoules to 1 kilowatt hour. So, 126.5/3.6 is 35.139. Note that this assumes no energy is lost in power generation. The number for the homes that can be powered for one year if all aluminum beverage cans are recycled is calculated by taking the total energy savings that would come from all aluminum beverage cans available for recycling being recycled and dividing it by the energy use of a typical household. The typical energy use for a U.S. household in one year is 11,000 kilowatt hours per year. This ultimately gets to 3,733,418 homes that could be powered with the electricity generated from recycling all aluminum cans that are shipped out.

The homes that can be powered for one year if all aluminum beverage cans available for recycling are recycled was multiplied by 365 and then by 24 to get the number of homes that can be powered for one hour if all aluminum beverage cans available for recycling are recycled.

The second part of the formula multiples the pounds of cans available for recycling in one year by the beverage cans per pound. This gives the total number of beverage cans available for recycling in 2019. This was multiplied by the estimated yield of aluminum recycling since not all of those pounds will be included in a new product given the tiny losses involved in the recycling process.

Then divide the total number of homes that could be powered for one hour if all beverage cans available for recycling are recycled divided by the total number of beverage cans available for recycling to get how many homes for one hour could be powered per beverage can recycled.

Sources:

  • Energy savings per kilogram of aluminum recycling in megajoules | Aluminum Association 2021 semi-fabricated LCA (will be published online in September 2021)
  • Homes can power for one year if all aluminum beverage cans recycled | Aluminum Association
  • Pounds of beverage cans available for recycling | Can Manufacturers Institute can shipment data provides the total amount of cans manufactured in the United States and that number is adjusted based on trade balances. The adjustments account for the exports of unfilled cans and the imports of unfilled cans. The numbers for these adjustments come from U.S. Department of Commerce trade data
  • U.S. average annual household electricity consumption in kWh | U.S. Energy Information Administration 

HOURS CAN POWER A 45" LED TV

Formula:

[kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled] / [kilowatt hours needed to power a 40 to 50 inch LED TV per hour]

[0.434] / [0.071] = 6.1

Explanation:

See above for explanation of how kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was calculated.

The amount of KWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was divided by the kilowatt hours needed to power a 40 to 50 inch LED TV per hour to determine how many hours a 40 to 50 inch LED TV could be powered by the energy savings from recycling one beverage can.

Sources:

SLICES OF BREAD TOASTED IN A 2-SLICE TOASTER

Formula:

[kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled] / [(kilowatt hours needed to power a 2 slice toaster) / 2]

[0.434] / [0.04 / 2] = 21.7

Explanation:

See above for explanation of how kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was calculated.

The amount of KWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was divided by the kilowatt hours needed to toast each slice of bread in a toaster. The per slice electricity was calculated by taking the kilowatt hours needed to power a two slice toaster and dividing it by two.

Sources:

HOURS CAN POWER A LAPTOP

[kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled] / [kilowatt hours needed to power a laptop per hour]

[0.434] / [0.035] = 12.4

Explanation:

See above for explanation of how kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was calculated.

The amount of KWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was divided by the kilowatt hours needed to power a laptop per hour to determine how many hours a laptop could be powered by the energy savings from recycling one beverage can.

Sources:

LOAD OF LAUNDRY

Formula:

[kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled] / [(kilowatt hours per warm wash cycle) + (kilowatt hours to run dryer cycle)]

[kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled] / [kilowatt hours to run both warm washer and dryer for one cycle]

[0.434] / [4 + 2.3]

[0.434] / [6.3] = 0.069

Explanation:

See above for explanation of how kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was calculated.

The amount of KWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was divided by the kilowatt hours needed to run a warm wash cycle and a dryer to determine how many loads of laundry could be completed per aluminum beverage can recycled.

Sources:

HOURS CAN POWER A REFRIGERATOR

Formula:

[kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled] / [(kilowatt hours to run a refrigerator per month) / (days in a month) / (hours in a day)]

[0.434] / [150 / 30 / 24]

[0.434] / [0.208] = 2.1

Explanation:

See above for explanation of how kWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was calculated.

The amount of KWh saved per aluminum beverage can recycled was divided by the kilowatt hours needed to run a refrigerator per hour to determine how many hours a refrigerator could be run per aluminum beverage can recycled. The kilowatt hours needed to run a refrigerator for a day was divided by 30 and then by 24 to get the amount of kilowatt hours needed to run a refrigerator per hour.

Sources:


CO2e Emissions Avoided

MILES DRIVE BY AN AVERAGE PASSENGER VEHICLE

Number: 0.245

Explanation:

This number was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. The calculator displays the miles driven by an average passenger vehicle per any amount of greenhouse gas that is entered into the calculator. When 0.0976378 kilograms, the kilograms of CO2e avoided per beverage can recycled, was entered into the calculator, it said that equals 0.245 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle

Sources:

NUMBER OF SMARTPHONES CHARGES

Number: 12

Explanation:

This number was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. The calculator displays the number of smartphones charged per any amount of greenhouse gas that is entered into the calculator. When 0.0976378 kilograms, the kilograms of CO2e avoided per beverage can recycled, was entered into the calculator, it said that equals 12 smartphones charged.

Sources:


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