How are tin cans recycled?
Metal packaging, including tin cans, is an infinitely recyclable type of packaging that is widely used all around the world. It makes up 12% of the packaging demand worldwide and it is the most recycled material in the world, with over 85% of the tin cans alone in Europe being recycled and fed back into the economy. That’s why tin cans play a crucial role in reducing waste. In this blog post, I would like to give you a brief overview of the fascinating process of recycling tin cans, highlighting each step.
It all begins with proper sorting and collection. That is why it is extremely important to sort the packaging waste at the source, which is the responsibility of the consumer. Most local authorities have recycling programs to help and they try to prevent packaging from going into landfills.
Once collected, metal packaging waste arrives at the sorting facility and is placed on conveyor belts. The magnetic properties of tin cans make them very easy to separate from aluminum cans. By placing really powerful magnets over the conveyor belt, tin cans are effortlessly extracted from the rest of the metal packaging waste, ensuring precise separation.
Compacting and Bailing
Now that the tin cans are sorted and collected together, they are ready to be transported to the steel manufacturing plant. Before that though, they are turned into big dense blocks of scrap bails using specialized machinery. These scrap bails make handling and transportation much easier and more efficient.
Bails of steel cans arrive at the steel plant. They now are mixed with molten iron in a furnace and blasted with oxygen to 1700 °C for about 20 minutes and turned into new steel.
Casting and Rolling
After the new steel is made, it gets cast into slabs and hot rolled into coils. And through further processing, they are turned into cold-rolled and coated products like tinplate.
Manufacturing of New Tin Cans
Now the brand new tinplate has been manufactured from old tin cans, it is delivered to various tin can plants like us for new tin can manufacturing. Through the process, there has been no loss in the amount of material or the quality. It is very possible that the tinplate we are using today has been turned into a tin can in our facility in the past.
Recycling tin cans help us conserve very valuable raw materials and energy and reduces waste. By being a part of the process and sorting before throwing tin cans in the trash, the consumers play the most important part in the whole recycling chain. A higher recycling rate also means less need for virgin material use which results in a reduction in mining and extraction activities. So start today and do your part. Don’t forget, every bit helps!
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