Can you put soda cans in the recycling bin?

In this short report we will discuss the question “Can you put soda cans in the recycling bin?” by first knowing about the materials used to make these soda cans. We will further discuss the possibility of recycling soda cans and how efficient is the process. On an endnote, we will discuss if the recycling of soda cans is better for the health of our environment. 

Are all soda cans made of aluminum? 

Soda cans are made of material that possess the necessary features of durability, strength and are able to withstand the content in it without corroding. Early people used to make soda cans from metal films. However, currently most of the soda cans are made of aluminum because of its versatile features. 

As the fizzy content of the soda cannot be held by materials such as paper, plastic or metals, aluminum provides a better alternative. Around 75% of the soda cans in the US are made of aluminum whereas the rest 25% is made from tin-plated steel. Every soda can is built to withstand pressure inside due to the presence of carbon dioxide in the beer and soft drinks. Aluminum being lightweight and strong is able to withstand such pressure exerted by the fizzy drink inside. 

It is also a shiny material and preferable for its glazing appearance. Moreover, it makes an attractive background for decorating. In another model steel can with aluminum top was used to pack beverages and other carbonated drinks. This also has several distinct advantages where the half life of beer can be increased to twice due to the presence of aluminum top. 

One can find an abundant number of soda-can waste in parties and events. Some of the places where these are used most includes: 

  • Home 
  • Office 
  • Outdoor concerts 
  • Festivals 
  • Carnivals 

These are fun places to be but remember the waste generated after the excitement is over. Even now soda can wastes generated in the events goes to the trash can which end up in landfill. With proper knowledge of recycling and reusing given to the people, many of such wastes can be prevented from ending up in landfill. 

Photo Courtesy: iStock. Aluminum cans

Can you put soda cans in the recycling bin? 

Yes, soda cans made of metals or aluminum can be put in recycling bin near your curb side. As the aluminum is 100% recyclable it is regarded as one one of the best materials for packaging and kitchen appliances. However, this is only applicable if it does not end up in landfill. 

This is because aluminum leaches out chemicals and toxins that end up in underground water and pose hazard to wildlife. Research studies have found that the brains of honey bees contain higher levels of aluminum which is considered toxic to even humans. Thus, recycling aluminum cans is the best way to utilize its full potential in an eco-friendly way. 

Many states have collection centers that accepts aluminum cans for recycling. There is also door to door collection of aluminum waste where the buyers are ready to pay a certain amount for the wastes. With these facilities, it is easy to give your aluminum product for recycling where these will be converted to useful products. 

How efficient is soda can recycling? 

Unlike plastics, recycling efficiency of aluminum is 100%. This is because every time aluminum is recycled to make a new product its material quality is not lost, and the expected durability and strength is still maintained in the new product. This is the reason why most industries are making their products from recycled aluminum. 

It is also interesting to know that when you use recycled aluminum it uses far less energy than the one made from scratch. With the energy that is used to make 1 soda can, the industry can make 60 soda cans with the recyclable aluminum. This is also economically advantageous given some countries are still in the developing state. 

Studies have found that using recycled aluminum reduces greenhouse gas effect by 96% and uses 95% less energy compared to the aluminum extracted from the raw material. There are many ways by which soda cans can be recycled. There are facilities that sort out soda cans separately and send them to recycling plants. 

Even more, there are collection centers in every place including cities, markets, and shopping centers. As for rural areas, though there are not many uses of soda cans, these are collected on a regular basis by the agencies for recycling. However, for effective recycling certain things need to be taken care of. 

First, the material sent for recycling should be clean of any unwanted materials. Properly rinsing the can before disposing will do the work. Second, it is a good practice to remove the lid of the can completely and place it in the can. This way it is safe to dispose of without hurting the workers who are handling these wastes. 

Are soda cans environmentally friendly? 

The answer to this question is based on the choice by human beings. Aluminum can be made the most eco-friendly material to use if it’s given for recycling. Otherwise, if dumped in trash it is allowed to decompose in landfill where it takes many years to start the breakdown process. 

Not only is it harmful to the environment, aluminum waste is already adding up to several types of wastes that end up in landfill. Recycling aluminum has a lot of advantages. It is eco-friendly, economical, and there is no downcycling. Aluminum is the most abundant element found in earth’s crust. 

They are widely distributed in the ore bauxite. Pure aluminum is extracted from this ore which requires a lot of energy and releases high amounts of carbon dioxide. The extraction, separation, and purification of aluminum requires a lot of energy which is obtained from our non-renewable energy resources.

Photo Courtesy: iStock. Soda can


In this summary we have discussed the question “Can you put soda cans in the recycling bin?” and answered some of the relevant questions regarding the use and recycling of soda cans. We have further discussed the different ways recycling is efficient for a healthy environment. 

Frequently asked question (FAQs): Can you put soda cans in the recycling bin? 

Which recycling bin does soda cans go in? 

Unless otherwise specified by the state law, all soda cans go to the recycling bin which are also marked with recycling symbols. These cans can go with other recycling materials such as plastics, bottles or papers, which later get separated at the recycling center. 

How do you dispose of soda cans? 

Soda cans are mostly made up of aluminum which is completely recyclable. So, trash it into the recycling bin or if you do not have any curbside recycling bin then take it to the nearest waste collection center or buy back centers where it can be collected and sent for recycling. 

Online searchable sites are also available such as Earth911 through which you can find a recycling center near you. Make sure that you clean the soda can before sending it for recycling. This way you can prevent contaminating the whole recycling batch. 

Do cans go in the recycling bin? 

Yes, cans can go in the recycling bin along with papers, plastics, food tins etc. The only thing with the aerosol can is to make sure that they are empty before placing it in the recycle bin else it can prove hazardous to the workers. It should also be noted that cans contaminated with food cannot go to recycling unless it is clean. Hence a simple rinse after its use will prevent the can contaminating the entire recycling load. 

How do I dispose of aluminum cans? 

The best way to dispose of any aluminum product is by recycling. You will be excited to know that cans can be used to get some money if you give it back to the store for recycling. Aluminum can be 100% recycled while maintaining its quality with each recycling. Most of the industry makes aluminum products from the recycled aluminum thereby preventing its dumping in the landfill. 

Why shouldn’t you drink out of cans? 

Most of the aluminum cans are lined with epoxy where leaching of BPA (bisphenol A) is expected. Studies have shown that the intake of BPA increases blood pressure and is a risk for heart disease. Another reason is that these cans are stored overnight before shipping or transport. 

Which means these cans go to different places before it reaches you and contamination with rodents while in storage can become a cause for not drinking directly from the can. 

Can you sell aluminun cans? 

Yes, a certain state has set up regulatory law through which you can get some money when you return the cans for recycling. The amount paid differs from state to state where it can reach up to 12 cents per bottle of can. Some states’ pay-outs are based on the weight of the can, and it can range from 59 cents per pound to 20 cents per pound. 

Offices, outdoor parties, and concerts are the place where a high load of aluminum cans is obtained. Making money out of these can also prevent them from inadvertently dumping into the environment causing hazardous effects to humans. 

How much is a garbage bag full of aluminum cans worth? 

The pricing for the waste cans varies state to state where it can go as high as $2 per pound to as low as 5 cents per pound. On an average 59 cents per pound is what you can get by returning the used can to stores. With that rate, a garbage full bag of aluminum on an average will hold about 400 cans which amounts to $7. 

Again, there will be a lot of variation in these aspects because a garbage bag can hold a greater number of cans if it’s crushed before disposing so the amount will be different then. The best way is to know that the aluminum can on an average weigh about half-ounce. 


Shinzato MC, Hypolito R. Solid waste from aluminum recycling process: characterization and reuse of its economically valuable constituents. Waste Manag. 2005;25(1):37-46. doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2004.08.005. 

Verma AS, Suri NM, Kant S. Applications of bauxite residue: A mini-review. Waste Manag Res. 2017 Oct;35(10):999-1012. doi: 10.1177/0734242X17720290

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