Can Manufacturers Institute Members Commit to Aluminum Beverage Can 70 Percent Recycling Rate by 2030

Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) beverage can manufacturer and aluminum can sheet producer members are committing to achieving ambitious U.S. recycling rate targets including a 70 percent recycling rate by 2030. These new targets will improve the circularity of the aluminum beverage can while demonstrating to beverage companies and consumers the industry’s dedication to ensuring the aluminum beverage can remains the most sustainable package on the market.

The targets are being set through CMI, which represents U.S. metal can manufacturers and their suppliers. The aluminum beverage can recycling rate was 45 percent in 2020, and the industry aims to attain even higher recycling rates beyond 2030 with an 80 percent rate by 2040 and more than 90 percent by 2050.

CMI members are committed to more aluminum beverage cans completing the circular journey into new cans. There are nearly 90,000 aluminum beverage cans recycled every minute in the United States, with 93 percent going from the recycling bin back to store shelf as a new can in as little as 60 days. This high level of can-to-can recycling has resulted in the aluminum beverage can having an industry-leading average recycled content of 73 percent. Increasing the recycled content of the average can reduces its carbon footprint since making an aluminum beverage can from recycled material results in more than 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than making the container from primary material. Continued high demand for aluminum beverage cans necessitates the industry’s vision for increasing recycling of used beverage cans (UBC). Increased UBC recycling would enhance the resiliency of the domestic aluminum supply chain that is incorporated into new cans.

If the can industry’s new recycling rate targets are achieved, the U.S. recycling system also stands to gain since aluminum beverage cans are one of the most valuable commodities in the recycling stream. Aluminum beverage cans are only 3 percent by weight of all the recyclables at single-family U.S. homes, but they represent nearly half of the revenue of those recyclables. In fact, one recent study concluded that without the revenue from UBCs, most of the material recovery facilities that sort single stream recyclables wouldn’t be able to operate with their current business models. In short, collecting more cans means a financially strengthened U.S. recycling system.

The aluminum beverage can is starting from a position of strength. The aluminum beverage can was designed to be the premier package for recycling, and the can industry has invested billions of dollars so that cans are recycled in the United States at scale with existing infrastructure. The aluminum beverage can industry has been measuring its recycling rate for decades, and the last couple decades the rate has hovered around 50 percent.

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