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The average UK household uses over 600 aluminium cans every year.

We use aluminium cans every day, and in huge quantities. 90% of all drinks cans in the UK are made from aluminium, and the recycling possibilities of cans are endless. But what happens to that precious can of Diet Coke once you’ve tossed it in the recycling bag? And where did it come from?

This week is National Recycle week, and as it takes the same amount of energy to produce 1 aluminium can as it does to recycle 20, we’re dedicating this post the life of a tin can!

How it’s made

Starting out life as one huge roll of aluminium sheet, circles are cut out of this 9-tonne sheeting and formed into cups. These cups are then transferred to another machine, where a sleeve holds it in place while it is pulled to form an even bigger cup!

This process makes a bit of a wavy cup, not the perfect can. So it goes through another process called “earring”, where it trims of the wavy bits and is ready for cleaning and decorating.

After it’s been cleaned and decorated, the lid is formed from a slightly different, thicker alloy than the rest of the can. Once it’s made it is scored so that when we want to open it up, it’s easily pushed through. Hey presto, it’s filled, lid secured, and ready for despatch.

How it’s Recycled

Here’s the fun bit. Did you know that aluminium is recyclable forever? It doesn’t matter how many times it’s used, melted down and used again, it will never deteriorate. That’s why tossing your cans in the recycle bag is definitely a wise idea.

So how are they recycled? Well, firstly they’re shredded and cleared of any colourings that have been put on to them.

All the shreds are then put into a huge furnace and bunt down.

The melted aluminium is poured into casts and left to set. Each cast can me re-made into approximately 1.5 million cans!


The whole process starts again, and no materials are wasted! Despite the fact that we could potentially be recycling 100% of all aluminium, over 80 million aluminium and steel cans are sent to landfill in the UK every day. In recent years, we’ve done much better and increased the rate of recycling from 54% (2010) to 75% (2018). This is great, but actively recycling cans as much as possible can bring this number up even higher!

At Valley Waste, we recycle anything that can be, from what we collect. We divert over 70% of our collected waste from landfill. If you want to know more about our services or request a quote, you can do so by clicking here.

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