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The Recycling Partnership Reports Impact to Date on Aluminum Recycling

Recycling Initiative Drives Capture of 4.1 Million New Pounds of Aluminum Annually  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 4, 2023) – The Recycling Partnership reported today on the impact of its Aluminum Recycling Initiative (Initiative). Under the Initiative five grants have been issued for the continued advancement and improvement of aluminum recycling. To date, the grants have captured three times more aluminum than original projections estimated, ultimately resulting in an additional 4.1 million new pounds of aluminum captured annually, equal to more than 18,750 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoidance. 

The Initiative’s efforts have focused on stimulating investment in sorting equipment and process improvements. Although materials like aluminum have a long history of recycling and are currently recycled at relatively high recycling rates, there are meaningful opportunities for improvement. To date, the Initiative has received support from the Can Manufacturers Institute, the Alcoa Foundation, and Arconic Foundation. While great strides have been made, there is a continued need for this type of impactful investment by all companies and organizations who share the vision of a more circular system for aluminum packaging. 

One illustration of how this Initiative drives measurable progress is with recent grantee Curbside Management in Asheville, NC. Funding from the Initiative catalyzed investment in a larger eddy current separator, allowing the facility to capture 1.3 million new pounds of recycled aluminum per year. 

“Through the Aluminum Recycling Initiative grant, we were able to upgrade our aluminum capture process and maximize our annual tonnage. Adding a larger eddy current separator was essential in increasing the capture and improving the quality of aluminum from the container line,” said Barry Lawson, president of Curbside Management.  

Other grantees have boosted aluminum capture through approaches ranging from replacing hand sortation with automated sortation to installing equipment that detects and captures aluminum missorted into the plastic container stream. 

“There is a growing need to modernize MRFs to enhance sortation, increase capture rates, and improve bale quality,” said Adam Gendell, Director of Materials Advancement at The Recycling Partnership. “These grants prove that investment can drive meaningful improvement, but we need continued support to achieve full-scale change.” The Initiative will continue to unlock opportunities for increased aluminum capture and is pleased to continue to make grant funds available to MRFs. 

To learn more about The Recycling Partnership and the Aluminum Recycling Initiative, including how to become a supporter or how to apply for a grant, visit https://recyclingpartnership.org/aluminum-can-capture-grants-for-mrfs/.

About The Recycling Partnership 

At The Recycling Partnership, we are solving for circularity. As a mission-driven NGO, we are committed to advancing a circular economy by building a better recycling system. We mobilize people, data, and solutions across the value chain to reduce waste and our impact on the environment while also unlocking economic benefits. We work on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs; we partner with companies to achieve packaging circularity, increase access to recycled materials, and meet sustainability commitments; and we work with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of our residential recycling system and advance a circular economy. We foster public-private partnerships and drive positive change at every step of the recycling and circularity process. Since 2014, we have diverted 770 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, avoided more than 670,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and driven significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org. 


The Recycling Partnership’s Aluminum Recycling Initiative Grantees

  • GEL Recycling in Orange City, Florida installed equipment to detect and capture fugitive aluminum cans that were missorted into the plastic container stream, resulting in additional capture of 204,000 new pounds per year.  
  • Independent Texas Recyclers in Houston, Texas installed equipment to capture aluminum that was not detected by the main aluminum sorting equipment, resulting in 2.5 million new pounds of aluminum capture per year. 
  • Rivers Recycling in Kilgore, Texas installed equipment to move from hand sortation to a modernized and automated process, resulting in a projected 106,000 new pounds of aluminum capture per year. 
  • Marquette County Michigan’s MRF installed equipment that transformed the MRF from not being able to sort aluminum – causing the material to end up in mixed plastic bales – to having a modernized sorting system on track to capture 108,000 new pounds of aluminum per year while also improving the quality of mixed plastic bales.