Rubicon’s waste diversion and circular solutions manager Meredith Leahy was recently quoted in Reader’s Digest on the question of whether or not you should crush cans before recycling them. Here’s what she had to say.
Not crushing aluminum cans before recycling them may seem wrong, but keeping them whole is actually better for the environment.
In a single-stream recycling system, consumers place all recyclables—cans, paper, plastic, glass—in one bin. They’ll later be sorted at a municipal facility. Most recycling collection programs are single-stream.
But you shouldn’t crush cans in a single-stream system. That’s because it’s harder for the electrical current which helps separate out aluminum cans at municipal recycling facilities to identify them as cans when they’re crushed.
In addition, factors at recycling facilities can come into play. “The design, age of the facility, and desired targeted commodities all fluctuate, so that can impact aluminum sorting as well,” notes Meredith Leahy, waste diversion and circular solutions manager at Rubicon.