Aluminum cans do have their perks — they are really convenient and inexpensive. However, creating them causes a lot of impact on the environment: Aluminum is refined out of bauxite ore, which is acquired via open-pit mining. The process to extract aluminum uses a lot of energy and water. Then still more energy and resources are used to turn the raw material into shiny, new cans filled with beverages and distributed to store shelves all over the world. Millions of tons of aluminum — much of it coming from single-use cans — wind up in landfills each year, according to the EPA. According to the Recycling Coalition of Utah, aluminum takes between 200 and 500 years to fully degrade in a landfill.
The good news is that aluminum is highly recyclable. The RCU says that there is no limit to the number of times that aluminum can be recycled and recycling aluminum takes 95% less energy than making aluminum from raw materials.
And there’s more good news for locals: The Moab Community Recycle Center (1000 Sand Flats Rd., Moab) is hosting Cash for Cans on Saturday, Nov. 14 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Recycle Center has partnered with the nonprofit Moab Solutions and local business Poison Spider Bicycles to hold this event in honor of America Recycles Day 2020. Businesses as well as residents are invited to bring aluminum cans to the center and exchange them for 30 cents per pound of cans.
Only aluminum cans (not steel or tin) will be accepted as part of the Cash for Cans event, though residents may also drop off other items to be recycled at the center during the event. COVID safety precautions including the use of masks and social distancing are required.
Sara Melnicoff, the director of Moab Solutions, said one thing she likes about Cash for Cans is that it “gets some extra money to people who can use it.” But she also pointed out that recycling is its own reward.
“When people are doing something very simple and recycling their cans, and having an impact globally, it feels good,” she said.
Melnicoff said she will be present at the event with information about aluminum cans and their global impact.
Evan Tyrrell, the district manager for the Grand County Solid Waste Special Service District, said that 1,854 pounds of cans were collected at last year’s Cash for Cans event. He added that cans collected are taken to the Salt Lake City area for processing, where they are made into new products such as aluminum siding or simply into a new can.
Tyrrell pointed out that while aluminum cans are relatively light in weight, they provide the largest amount of revenue to the Community Recycle Center on a per-weight basis. He contrasted this with materials, such as cardboard, which are less profitable though the public recycles many more pounds of it.
He added that the goal is to hold Cash for Cans events twice per year – timed around Earth Day in April and America Recycles Day in November – and he is looking for local businesses to sponsor future events.
The Community Recycle Center is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. In addition to aluminum cans, the center accepts #1 and #2 plastics, glass jars and bottles, steel and tin cans, cardboard and papers including magazines, newspaper, junk mail and glossy inserts. It also accepts electronic waste and universal waste (such as batteries and mercury-containing light bulbs) every Saturday. Most material drop-offs are free for loads less than 1 cubic yard, though fees apply to electronic and universal waste.
For more information, go to www.swssd1.org/recycling or call 435-259-3867.