Canny Facts

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We’re all canny about recycling at home these days, but there’s less focus on what happens at work or in public places. However, the facts and figures show that it’s just as important to make Every Can Count and reduce waste wherever we are.

Steel and aluminium were being collected to melt down for remanufacture long before the term ‘recycling’ was invented. Recycled metal has exactly the same properties as virgin material – but takes less than 25 per cent of the energy to produce.

  • The UK produces over 9 billion drinks cans every year. 80% are made of aluminium.
  • Each drinks can you recycle today could be reprocessed and remade into a new product.
  • In a whole year, one drink can could be recycled eight times, saving enough energy to make 160 new cans.
  • And the best thing about metals is that, since they are 100 per cent recyclable, they save more carbon every time they pass through the recycling loop.


As one of the world’s most abundant elements aluminium is found in rocks, soil, vegetation, water and even the air. As a metal it is lightweight but strong, does not rust or corrode, and is easily cast or rolled to make complex shapes for a wide range of products – from greenhouses to skyscrapers. And of course, aluminium is used to make food packaging – especially drinks cans, and can be recycled again and again with no loss of quality!

75% of the aluminium ever made is still in productive use today. Fancy that…

The energy saved by recycling 4 aluminium drink cans would:

  • Run a washing machine for 1 hour
  • Run an electric blanket for 8 hours

The energy saved by recycling one aluminium drink can would:

  • Run a fridge for 1 hour
  • Boil a kettle 3 times


Steel is one of the most commonly used packaging materials in the world. Scrap steel is an essential part of the steel production process and all new steel products – from paper clips to bridges – contain up to 57 per cent recycled steel. Fancy that…

  • The energy savings made by recycling steel packaging from the average UK household in 2010 were enough to boil a kettle over 130 times
  • The CO2 savings made by recycling steel packaging in the UK in 2010 was equivalent to taking over 200,000 cars of the road in the same year.
  • Recycling 1 food can will save enough energy to power a light bulb for 7 hours
  • The CO2 savings made by recycling steel packaging from the average UK household in 2010 were equivalent to running a fridge freezer for 3 weeks.

We all know that recycling makes sense. It saves energy and natural resources. And by using resources in a more sustainable way, we can help reduce our impact on the world. So next time you crack open a cold can on your lunch break, have a think about what’s going to happen to it when it’s finished, and make sure you do your bit – recycle it!

Here’s the science…

Every tonne of aluminium recycled saves: 4 tonnes of bauxite 9 tonnes of CO2 emissions 95% of the energy need to make aluminium from raw materials 97% of the greenhouse gas emissions Every tonne of steel packaging recycled saves: 1.5 tonnes of iron ore 40% of the water required in production 75% of the energy needed to make steel from virgin material And reduces:
- CO2 emissions by 80%
- Air emissions by 86%
- Water pollution by 76% Check out some of our partners’ websites for more fascinating facts on metal packaging and recycling.