You Should Never Crush Aluminum Cans Before Recycling! Here’s Why

Aluminum cans are lightweight and may, therefore, be admittedly "enjoyable" to crush – really, nothing beats that quick crunch. Also, many people label crushing aluminum cans and such before putting them out for recycling, an ingenious way to save space for other recyclables. However, experts say that leaving aluminum cans whole when disposing of them is much better for the environment.

By Cookist

Crushing aluminum cans seems pretty harmless when it makes for indeed great trouble during the recycling process and, ultimately, the environment!

First off, consider what process your town or city employs to recycle items. If it is a single-stream recycling system, then you want to be extra careful.

There is a high likelihood that you and many more residents in the area place recyclable materials like cans, plastic, and glass in just one bin. This means that before recycling eventually starts, they will have to be sorted at a facility.

If you crush your cans, you'll create a more difficult task for the sorting machine, which is typically powered by electric currents to identify and, subsequently, separate crushed aluminum cans.

This task is labeled a troublesome one by Matt Meenan, the senior director of public affairs for the Aluminum Association. He says:

"This makes it more likely that the can will be lost or mis-sorted with other materials."


This may lead to contamination of the entire batch of recyclables. If the recycling facility is underhanded by several other factors like its age and design, it may be even greater trouble!

So, if you're living in such a town, make sure to keep your cans in shape!

On the other hand, if your city or town employs a multi-stream system, crushing cans is beneficial because you already have to classify your recyclable materials yourself. This way, there are no chances of contaminating other products.

If you live in a community that operates by a single-stream recycling facility, you can help to raise awareness!

Every dish has a story
Find out more on Cookist social networks