Aluminum and other Plastic Alternatives
Aluminum is having a bit of a renaissance. The most common natural metal in the earth's surface has long been used in everyday life for everything from soda cans to construction beams. But now aluminum's versatile nature is being touted by environmentalists as a viable alternative to single-use plastic, which has become one of the world’s most detested environmental pollutants.
In recent years, people have staged strikes against plastic, promoted reusable materials, and participated in massive plastic waste clean-up efforts. Now brands are starting to pay attention.
It’s important to note that aluminum isn’t the holy grail of sustainability. Cultivating and processing virgin aluminum takes enormous amounts of energy, which makes recycling so critical. That’s why Novelis, the world’s largest aluminum recycler, recently invested $260 million in developing a plant to create cans that are 90% recycled aluminum.
While 75% of harvested aluminum is still in use today, that number could be higher if reliable recycling systems had been in place over the past century. Today, most countries have the capacity to collect and recycle aluminum and encourage its reuse, meaning that almost all new aluminum will end up recycled once it reaches the end of its first product state.