Author Topic: Aluminum cans...  (Read 3564 times)

purple monkey

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Aluminum cans...
« on: December 13, 2015, 02:46:57 PM »
Hello,
Is it worth it to save aluminum cans?
I see a few here and there around my neighborhood.
What is your cost basis analysis, oh wise ones?

maizefolk

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2015, 03:06:59 PM »
Depends on how much you value your time.

If you live in a state with a 5 cent/can refund you need to collect 145 cans/hour to make the federal minimum wage (so a little more than 2 cans a minute). More than that to cover the time you spend driving to and from the redemption center. From a purely financial perspective I'd guess you could find way more effective ways to reduce your spending or increase your income with the same amount of time.

Random trivia: a lot of these laws were passed in the late 70s, so if they'd been indexed to inflation the refund for an aluminum can would be closer to $0.20 today and I bet you wouldn't see any laying around your neighborhood.

reader2580

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2015, 03:19:20 PM »
I live in a state without a deposit on pop cans.  I figured out one time that it takes about 33 aluminum cans for a pound.  At the time I was getting about 1.5 cents per can although it is probably more like one cent per can now.  I used to keep all my cans plus cans from running a concession stand monthly.  I would get about 20 pounds a year, or about $10.

I moved to a house without an attached garage and I quit keeping my cans.  They just go into the recycle bin now.

maizefolk

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2015, 03:41:58 PM »
If you're in a state where you're selling aluminum cans based on weight, there is another factor you have to consider: aluminum cans are getting lighter and lighter!

Quote
When introduced in the early 1960's, 1,000 aluminum beverage cans weighed about 55 lbs. Today*, through improved design, 1,000 aluminum beverage cans weigh less than 35 lbs.

Taken from this websute (http://zerowaste.uoregon.edu/TRIVIA.htm) which references a study that came out in 1988 so "today" is extremely out of date. Based on reader2580's measurement of 33 cans/pound the weight of 1,000 cans is now down to ~30 lbs. Assuming a constant linear decrease from 1960-2015 and projecting into the future by the year 2081 aluminum cans will be weightless. ;-)

iamlindoro

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2015, 04:22:14 PM »
A client I'm working for most days at the moment provides free sodas.  When I got there, there was no recycling, and nobody taking cans.  So, I set up a recycle bin, and every week I cart off a giant trash bag full of cans.  The back of my car is actually full of such bags at the moment.  Every so often, we take them over to the scrap metal yard, cash them in, and go to a nice dinner out.

Goldielocks

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2015, 04:23:43 PM »
Wow!  Yes!

Do you know how much electricity is saved for every 100 cans that are recycled instead of made from scratch?  It is a huge environmental win to recycle those cans.  (and most other copper and steel / iron items, too, but aluminum tops them all)


reader2580

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2015, 04:30:17 PM »
I provide a recycling bin at the monthly event I sell concessions at.  I end up pulling a lot of cans out of the trash as people won't bother to put the cans in the recycling bin.  I know a lot of cans are ending up in the trash as I can't monitor it all day long.  As already mentioned, aluminum cans are very important to to recycle as a new virgin can takes many times more energy to produce.

maizefolk

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2015, 04:38:58 PM »
I just want to say that, despite the financial calculations above, I completely agree with reader2580 and goldielocks there are very good reasons that  don't have anything to do with increasing your net worth to recycle aluminum.

teen persuasion

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2015, 11:00:02 AM »
I always save pop cans and bottles, and plastic water bottles for the deposit.  It is always amazing to me that people are too lazy to recycle them, let alone return them to the store to get the deposit back.  I have to remind my kids not to rip the paper labels off water bottles, since the barcode on the label is what is needed for the refund.

It is also rather ridiculous that the aluminum can deposit/refund rules haven't been updated to reflect the increasing numbers of non-carbonated drinks in cans now.  Only carbonated drink cans have deposits/refunds on them, per the original wording of the law.

Many groups use the can/bottle refunds as a fundraiser - they put out bins to collect them in, or have a mass drop-off day, or have an agreement with the "nickel-back" places (rather than return your bottles/cans for cash, you can tell them to credit it to your church or the boy scouts, etc.).

TrMama

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2015, 11:26:15 AM »
At our house, can return is a kid job. I sort the cans into a big garbage bag that lives in the garage. When we have 2 full bags, the kids come with me to the return place to further sort them by type (required to get the deposit back). The kids then get the entire profit and use it to buy food and bedding for their hamsters.

When it was just DH and I, we didn't bother with the above rigmarole.


v8rx7guy

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Re: Aluminum cans...
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2015, 12:04:05 PM »
I went to college in MI which had a 5 cent bottle refund.  I lived in a house with 6 other guys and the "rule" was that all beer bottles & cans were donated to the house fund which paid for toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc.  We drank enough to easily pay for all that crap year-round :P . In WA... I really don't find it worth the effort to bring them to the recycler to get cash... so we just put them in the recylcing bin for the truck to pick up every other week.