Where do containers go?

Product not waste

Recycling beverage containers delivers many great benefits to the environment and also makes good economic sense. Recycling containers saves energy, reduces landfill use and helps combat global warming with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Each beverage container material type has unique processes and energy requirements for both manufacturing and recycling.

The amount of energy saved in recycling varies by material type. For example, recycling aluminium requires a mere 5% of the energy used to create the original products from virgin material, while plastic recycling requires only 30% and glass around 70%.

 

Aluminum Cans

Aluminum is made from bauxite, an ore mined from the earth. It doesn’t decompose or break down! When recycled, aluminum is melted down and reshaped into new cans. In 2009, over 12,000 tonnes of material was diverted from Alberta landfills (95-99% of weight shipped is recycled with the remaining being moisture and contaminants.

 

Plastic Containers

Most plastic containers are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high density polyethylene (HDPE), both of which are petroleum based non-renewable resources. Shredded containers are sold to plastic recyclers who reuse the plastic to manufacture non-food containers. In some cases, the plastic is turned into a fibre used to make items like fleece jackets and vests. Over 80% of the materials in PET, HDPE and LDPE are recycled, resulting in diversion of over 14,500 tonnes in 2009.

 

Glass Containers

Clear glass containers are separated and crushed to form tiny spheres used in the production of road marking paint. Coloured glass is used to make fibreglass insulation for homes. 95% of non-refillable glass is recycled (over 54,000 tonnes in 2009).

 

Refillable Glass Beer Containers

Refillable glass containers are returned to the manufacturer for refilling on average 14 times. Containers that are chipped, damaged or deemed no longer suitable for reuse, as well as bottle line contamination, are culled out, crushed and recycled. Recycling and reuse of glass beer containers resulted in almost 42,000 tonnes being diverted in 2009.

 

Polycoat, Juice & Milk Cartons

Drink boxes (known as “aseptic” containers) and gable top juice & milk cartons (referred together as “polycoat”) are made of up to three material types: paper, an aluminum lining, and a plastic coating. Containers go through a hydra-pulping process that separates the different material types. The resulting paper pulp is then used to make cardboard boxes of all shapes, sizes and colors. 80% of material by weight is recycled resulting in 3,100 tonnes being diverted in 2009. Waste cardboard boxes and bag-in-a-box containers are baled and sold to paper recyclers for the manufacturing of pulp suitable for tough objects like cardboard boxes and tubes.

 

Bi-Metal Containers

Beverage container metal tins and cans are baled and then melted down to be turned into scrap metal, which can then be used as construction re-bar. 95% of weight is recycled resulting in almost 322 tonnes being diverted in 2009.