Are aluminium cans biodegradable? (7 reuses) 

This article will explain whether aluminium cans are biodegradable or not. Other topics that will be covered would include: 

  • Are aluminium cans biodegradable?
  • What is the best way to dispose of aluminium cans?
  • How to recycle aluminium cans?
  • Should you prefer aluminium cans or plastic bottles?
  • How to reuse aluminium cans?
  • Conclusion 

Are aluminium cans biodegradable?

Aluminium cans are not biodegradable as these cans require around 200-500 years to degrade. Also, aluminium cans affect the environment in terms of carbon footprint and GHG emissions. 

The best way to dispose of aluminium cans is to recycle as these cans can be recycled as many times as liked. This gives them an advantage over plastic bottles. Owing to this, the amount of recycled aluminium in aluminium cans is around 70% while in plastic bottles, it is around 3%. 

There are also various ways in which aluminium cans can be reused. These include use as aluminium cutters, pen holders, aesthetics, storage, arts & crafts, and DIY projects.

Can aluminium cans be categorised as biodegradable?

No, aluminium cans can not be categorised as biodegradable. There are two aspects that can tell about the biodegradability of aluminium cans. These are: 

  • How long do aluminium cans remain in the environment 
  • What is the environmental impact of aluminium cans 

As regards the first factor, there is a general rule of thumb that if a material takes more than 180 days in natural conditions, it will be considered non-biodegradable. In the case of aluminium cans, it is studied that the said may require between 200-500 years to degrade. Hence, a big no in that respect. 

As regards the other aspect, there is also a general rule of thumb. If and when materials are made from natural materials (such as plant extracts), they will be eco-friendly and also biodegradable. In the case of aluminium cans, there is no use of natural materials. 

Aluminium cans are made from the aluminium alloy in combination with other elements such as zinc, magnesium, silicone et cetera. 

The process of making an aluminium alloy is an energy-intensive process which is done at the expense of non-renewable resources. In particular, the smelting process is energy-intensive and releases GHGs into the atmosphere. This also makes aluminium non-eco-friendly. 

Therefore, based on the said details, it is sufficient enough to say that aluminium cans are not biodegradable because of the time taken to decompose and also their environmental impact.

How should aluminium cans be disposed of?

An important question that every consumer needs to know prior to buying aluminium cans is how can aluminium cans be rightly disposed of. 

In many ways, the right disposal methods are the necessary brick-and-mortar that can merge together a product used and environmental friendliness. 

The best disposal method when it comes to the disposal of aluminium cans is to dump them in recycling bins. When this is done, it is ensured that the aluminium cans are not just becoming part of landfills which will serve no good to society. 

Instead, when aluminium cans are disposed of properly, they will be recycled. This will offer a number of advantages to the environment and society. These advantages would include: 

  • Better waste management 
  • Better resource management 
  • Reduced carbon footprint 
  • Reduced greenhouse emissions
  • Reduced mining of aluminium

It is claimed that the recycling of aluminium will require 95% less energy as compared to when aluminium cans are made from scratch. This is mainly because of the fact that the mining and processing phases will be avoided when aluminium cans are recycled. 

As per the current scenario, it is estimated that about 50% of aluminium cans are made from recycled materials. This implies that we are halfway there. We also need the remaining 50% so that the environment can be alleviated collectively. 

How to recycle aluminium cans?

There is not much you can do about it. All you have to do is carefully dispose of it in order to ensure that the aluminium cans are properly recycled instead of just becoming a part of the landfills. 

There are two approaches that can be adopted at a subjective level to ensure that the aluminium cans are recycled. These are:

  • Disposing of aluminium cans in green-coloured recycling bins
  • Transporting aluminium cans to the nearest recycling facility 
  • Scheduling a pickup from the nearby recycling centres

The most convenient, of course, of the options available, is the dumping of used aluminium cans in recycling bins. However, if those are not available, then you may either transport them directly to recycling facilities or schedule an appointment. 

It is said about aluminium cans are infinitely recyclable. That means that you can recycle aluminium cans as many times as you like. 

Therefore, if aluminium cans are kept on being recycled, there will be no environmental impact of aluminium cans on the environment, at least theoretically. 

Can you earn by recycling aluminium cans?

Yes, you can earn by recycling aluminium cans. It is estimated that around 700 million dollars are wasted when aluminium cans are disposed of improperly. This you can help to alleviate and this will benefit you as well. 

In some developed states, you can actually earn some extra bucks by selling used aluminium cans to recycling centres. There is a rough estimate that around reselling 30 used aluminium cans will earn you a pound. 

The figures may look excessive but regular conscious practice will make the collection look a whole lot easier, and lucrative too. 

Should you prefer aluminium cans or plastic bottles?

When you go to the superstore, you have several options available for a product. let us say you want to buy a coke. The coke will be available in both plastic bottles (made from PET) and aluminium cans. 

The question is: which is better, and why? This section will endeavour to delve into the details of this question. For this, let us draw a comparison between aluminium cans and plastic bottles. 

There are three ways through which a comparison may be drawn between plastic bottles and aluminium cans: 

  • The production process
  • The usability and utility 
  • The disposal accessibility 

The production process

As regards production, plastic bottles take the win. It is studied that plastic bottles require less energy because the smelting process of aluminium cans takes a great toll on the environment. 

Therefore, in terms of the production process, aluminium cans will lead to a greater release of greenhouse gases and will lead to fervent environmental problems such as carbon footprint, pollution and global warming. 

The usability and utility 

Here also, plastic bottles take the win. This stance can be backed up by a number of points that include: 

  • Plastic bottles are cheaper as compared to aluminium cans
  • Plastic bottles can be reused because of their lid whereas, aluminium cans once opened, will have to be used to the full
  • Plastic bottles have a better grip and accessibility as compared to aluminium cans 

The disposal accessibility 

In terms of disposal options, aluminium cans take the win. This is because aluminium cans can be recycled easily and endlessly. There is no limit to the number of times aluminium cans can be recycled. 

On the other hand, plastic bottles are not that easily recycled. Also, there is greater energy required and employed when it comes to the recycling of plastic bottles. 

Because of this, the US EPA estimated that aluminium cans have about 50-70% of recycled content, whereas, in the case of plastic bottles, it is only 3%. 

How to reuse aluminium cans? (7 reuses)

As per studies and research, it should not only be about recycling or disposal. There are other options too that could be and should be explored. One of them is the right reusing of aluminium cans. 

Let us explore some of the ways through which aluminium cans can be reused: 

  • Aluminium cutters
  • Decorational purposes 
  • Plant holders
  • Storage
  • Pen holders
  • Arts & crafts 
  • DIY projects 

Aluminium cutters

Owing to the thinness of aluminium cans, they can easily be converted to DIY cutters such as cookie cutters. For this, all you need to do is change the shape and size of aluminium cans into the desired projects. 

Decorational purposes

Aluminium cans, due to their shiny appearance, can very well be used for educational purposes. The plus part is that you rarely need to do anything extra. Just be a bit creative with the colours and placement, and bingo!

Plant holders

You can actually sow small plantlets in used aluminium cans. You may hang them with the help of a small rope. Also, you can light it up with fairy lights. The bottom line is there are many ways to be creative with aluminium cans as plant holders. 

Storage and pen holders

The round shape of aluminium cans makes them a perfect candidate to be used for storage and holding purposes. These holders are attractive and durable, and the best part is you can recycle them whenever you think the holders have done their purpose. 

Arts, crafts & DIY projects 

Aluminium cans make an excellent addition to your arts and crafts materials. Their shiny appearance and handy structure make them a perfect fit for the purpose. You may use aluminium cans for arts and crafts reasons either at home or in school too. The idea is to reuse to the fullest. 

However, be sure to use only eco-friendly paints and colours as otherwise, there could be end-of-life complications. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that aluminium cans are not biodegradable as these cans require around 200-500 years to degrade. Also, aluminium cans affect the environment in terms of carbon footprint and GHG emissions. 

The best way to dispose of aluminium cans is to recycle as these cans can be recycled as many times as liked. This gives them an advantage over plastic bottles. Owing to this, the amount of recycled aluminium in aluminium cans is around 70% while in plastic bottles, it is around 3%. 

There are also various ways in which aluminium cans can be reused. These include use as aluminium cutters, pen holders, and aesthetics. Storage, arts & crafts, and DIY projects.

References 

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