Conservation Minnesota

Recycling Aluminum Cans Speeds Ahead

JohnHellandbiopicA rather startling revelation to me appeared in my Inbox this week from “Yes! Magazine.”  The fact that recycling one aluminum can will power a laptop for more than five straight hours…5.2 to be exact.
The article went on to say that aluminum has the highest embodied energy of all metal products.  92 billion aluminum cans were shipped in 2012 by the U.S. aluminum industry and, in the same year, 62 billion of these were recycled.
So this recycling rate of 67%, according to the American Aluminum Association, is equal to 19 million barrels of crude oil that could fuel 1.7 million cars for a year.
Now I don’t want to overwhelm you with all these statistics, but it seems to me these are impressive numbers for energy saved or recovered in the recycling world.
Further numbers indicate that the average person spends 2.3 hours a day on their computer or laptop, which equates to a little over 16 hours per week.  Recycling four aluminum cans each week would more than cover the energy used by your computer use.
I’ve been recycling aluminum cans at least since the first Earth Day.  As Spring begins to melt our long winter snow, don’t fail to pick up and recycle discarded aluminum cans you find in parks and byways to feel good about your computer’s energy output.
I’m going to go out now in the hope of finding a aluminum can to recycle to make up more than the one-half hour I’ve spent in composing this piece, and which will allow me to have four and one-half more hours for further computer research.

About John Helland

John Helland
John Helland is a history graduate of the University of Minnesota. He served as the nonpartisan legislative research analyst for the Minnesota House of Representatives after graduation. He worked extensively on environment and natural resources legislation and issues, and was the primary nonpartisan research staffer for the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance committees from 1971 to 2008.
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