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Aluminum Association Aims for 75% Recycling Rate

Nov. 20, 2008 - The Aluminum Association has launched an industry-wide effort to increase the U.S. recycling rate for used aluminum beverage cans from 54% to 75% by 2015.

To achieve its new recycling target, the Aluminum Association says it will work to increase public education, grow the recycling infrastructure, and explore new policy initiatives.

The U.S. aluminum industry's recycling rate peaked at 68% in 1992, but in the following years declined to as low as 50%. The Aluminum Association says that by working with legislators to make it easier for consumers to recycle there is the potential to reduce the over 50 billion aluminum cans that end up in landfills each year.

Manufacturers are supporting to the industry's push for higher recycling rates as well in order to reduce their costs of raw materials.

"It is time that we aggressively advance a multi-tiered approach and work with other stakeholders to achieve higher recycling rates," says Martha Finn Brooks, president and chief operating officer of Novelis Inc. "This metal is too valuable, from both an economic and environmental point of view, not to recover."

The association plans to encourage local and state governments to consider a range of options, including:

Growing and strengthening voluntary recycling programs, such as curbside recycling initiatives Considering deposit legislation as an option for all beverage containers. States that have deposit programs average at 74% or higher recycling rate versus around 38% in non-deposit states Exploring the role that mandatory recycling programs and landfill bans can play as part of the solution Recognizing the benefits of recycling in any potential climate change policies

"Aluminum is infinitely recyclable and the more aluminum that consumers recycle, the better it is for everyone," says Pat Franc, president of Arco Aluminum. "Educating the consumer about the economic and environmental benefits of aluminum can recycling is key to getting them to recycle more."

In January, Alcoa announced an identical goal to achieve a 75% recycling rate by 2015. The company says it will work to improve processing techniques and make recycling and collection more convenient for consumers.


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