Alcoa Recycling

For as long as we`ve been making aluminum, Alcoa has been recycling aluminum. In fact, we`ve been doing so since we invented the smelting process in 1888. That`s because aluminum is infinitely recyclable. Alcoa collects both aluminum cans and other aluminum scrap for recycling in Alcoa, Tennessee. Today, aluminum used beverage containers (UBCs) and many other forms of aluminum scrap are procured through Alcoa Recycling’s seasoned buying team. If you’re an industrial recycler and want to sell scrap to Alcoa, visit Alcoa Recycling’s Contact Us page for more information.

Company details

2300 North Wright Road , Alcoa , Texas 37701-3141 USA

Locations Served

Business Type:
Industry Type:
Waste and Recycling - Material Recycling
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
$100,000,000 US - $1,000,000,000 US

The mission of Alcoa Recycling is to help people understand how important it is to recycle, and to make it easier to do so. Today, it’s more important than ever to recycle. Recycling not only reduces litter and conserves landfill space, it is also an important key to slowing and stopping the growth of greenhouse gases caused by power generation. So help us make a difference. Recycle.

Aluminum is Infinitely Recyclable
The aluminum can is infinitely recyclable – that means it can be used, recycled, and turned back into a new can endlessly. In fact, it can be recycled and back on the store shelf as a new beverage can in less than 60 days! And that’s great for the environment because it takes 95% less energy to make a can from recycled aluminum, than from raw materials. By recycling aluminum cans, we’re also saving valuable space in our landfills.

Recycling is also a great way to earn cash too. Aluminum is the most valuable material in the recycling bin. Although by weight it is less than 2% of the USA’s recycled stream, aluminum generates 40% of the revenue to sustain all recycling programs. So by recycling aluminum cans, you can earn cash, while saving the environment too.

Aluminum is Sustainable
Because recycling aluminum saves so much energy, this is a huge opportunity for consumers to reduce their carbon footprint. In fact, if we could recover and recycle 75% of aluminum cans —600,000 metric tons of aluminum—we could save 1286 megawatts of generated electricity. That's the amount produced by two coal fired power plants. Replacing this production with recycling would keep 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being generated and released into the atmosphere.

Our Position on Aluminum Can Recycling

  • The aluminum can is the most sustainable consumer package.  It has  
    • unmatched recyclability with a recycling rate twice as high as other containers and is the only package that can be recycled in a closed loop an infinite number of times;
    • Recycled content that is more than double the rate of competing containers
    • A shape and package weight that provides significant transportation efficiencies creating superior source reduction
  • However, compared to recycling rates outside the U.S., we lag significantly. The main reason for the recent rate improvement comes from the import of material to recycle. In fact, the industry imported 8 billion used beverage cans to feed our recycling processes while U.S. consumers threw 5 times that many cans into landfills.  Clearly cans are a resource that should not be considered trash.  
  • A huge number of cans in the U.S. are still landfilled. More than 41 billion cans each year, worth about $900 million in value, are buried each year in the U.S. This is simply unacceptable. This slow pace of change is what led Alcoa in 2008 to call for a goal of 75% by 2015 – a goal ultimately adopted by the entire aluminum industry.
  • Alcoa believes voluntary actions can and should be a key part of the solution – industry and the private sector can make a meaningful difference through:

1) increasing public understanding of the importance of recycling in order to drive behavior change, and

2) increasing the infrastructure available to consumers

  • Alcoa has contributed millions to voluntary efforts since the aluminum can was invented.  We are the leader in our industry.
  • However, we also believe that smart and fair public policy can accelerate the pace of change.  We support public policy that :
    • incents consumers to recycle (such as “Pay as you throw”)
    • increases recycling infrastructure
    • recognizes the value of the resources that need to be kept from landfills as well as material specific recycling rates and content
    • properly assesses the cost of waste and the value of recycling
    • respects the existing market-based aluminum recycling industry that is vital to our business.

Alcoa stands ready to participate in public dialogue and collaboration to increase the U.S. consumer recycling rate, and to recover this infinitely recyclable natural resource.

Getting Started 

All you need to get started on your recycling fundraiser is the desire, and a few tips to get you organized! You’ll just need some bins to collect the cans, a team of volunteers to help you spread the word, and a way to take the cans to a local recycler to turn them into cash.

How Much Can I Earn? 

According to the Aluminum Association, Americans earn nearly $1 billion a year from recycling aluminum cans. But because our recycling rate is just over 50%, that means there is $1 billion of aluminum cans tossed into landfills. So there is money to be made!

Aluminum is a commodity sold on the open market.  So the price for the metal fluctuates every day, and your local recyclers may offer slightly different rates as well. It takes about 34 cans to make up one pound of aluminum. The price per pound will range based on the price of aluminum in the world market. To find out how much your cans can earn, your best bet will be to call your local recycling dealer and ask what the going rate is.

There are some states in the U.S. where there are “deposits” placed on aluminum cans. For instance, in Michigan, there is a $.10 deposit on every aluminum can, and designated locations where individuals can return cans to recoup the deposits. States with deposits on cans include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.

Where To Get Recycling Bins

If you want to raise money for a special cause through recycling aluminum cans, you’ll first want to ensure you have recycling bins to make it easier for you and the people who are helping you recycle. There are a number of sources for you to obtain bins, starting with your city or state’s recycling associations.

Promoting Your Efforts:

One of the best ways to increase your can collections, is to get others involved. Promoting your efforts can encourage others to also recycle aluminum cans and help you raise cash. There are lots of ways you can promote your fundraising efforts.

  • Start a website that describes your fundraising challenge and solicit cans/donations.
  • Set up a PayPal account if you want people who will recycle on your behalf to be able to deposit their earnings into your account.
  • Tell your story to the local media by sending out a news release.
  • Ask businesses to serve as collection centers and publicize with posters.
  • Send an email to your friends, family and associates asking for their support.
  • Post your cause on Facebook or MySpace or other social media outlets.
  • Tweet your story through Twitter.

Keeping Momentum

Once you start your recycling effort, keeping people excited about the effort will be important. Consider offering a small prize for anyone who collects the most cans during a period of time. And be sure to send thank you emails or phone calls to anyone who has gone above and beyond to bring in cans

Turning Cans Into Cash 

Once you’ve collected your cans, you’ll need to take them to a local recycler to turn them in for money. To find the closest recycler to you, click here.