Where imported UBCs are concerned, the Aluminium Association has included them in its recycling rate since 1972 when it began reporting and claims that high demand in the USA for recycled aluminium cans is behind the 25% increase in imports in 2011.
Heidi Brock, president of the Aluminium Association, said, "We are excited to have made strong progress toward our goal to increase the aluminium can recycling rate to 75%, but we need the help of every American to continue to raise the rate. There is much more work still to be done here in the United States to reach our goal by 2015."
The new figures mean that 61 billion UBCs were recycled in 2011, making the aluminium can the most recycled beverage container in the world.
Allison Buchanan, chair of the Aluminium Association's Can Committee, said that the amount of energy saved from recycling 61 billion UBCs was equivalent to 17 million barrels of crude oil, which would fuel one million cars for 12 months. It is also the same amount of energy used to produce the 29 billion plastic water bottles consumed annually by Americans.
According to Buchanan, the 'infinite recyclability' of aluminium cans means that recycled UBCs can be back on the shelves within 60 days. In fact, aluminium cans not only have the highest recycling rate of all beverage packages, they also have the greatest amount of recycled content (68%).
Joe Pickard, chief economist of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, said, "In 2011, aluminium recovered from purchased scrap in the United States increased 8% to more than 3Mmt, while at the same time total US aluminium scrap exports rose 12% to more than 2.1Mt.