Aluminum Can Recycling Rate Dispute Continues

News Release
For release: May 23, 2000

CONTACT: Pat Franklin
Executive Director (703) 276-9800
Jenny Gitlitz
Sr. Research Assoc. (508) 793-8516

Aluminum Can Recycling Rate Dispute Continues

CRI says the correct rate for the year 2000 is 55%, not 62.1%
Larger issue is 4-year decline in aluminum can recycling

ARLINGTON, VA (May 22, 2001)-- The Container Recycling Institute (CRI), a nonprofit research group, reports that the U.S. aluminum can recycling rate dropped to 54.5 percent in 2000, more than 7 percentage points lower than the rate reported by the Aluminum Association in April 2001.


"The industry methodology is flat out wrong," said Pat Franklin, executive director of CRI. "By including imported used cans in the number of cans recycled in the U.S., the Aluminum Association inflates the domestic recycling rate. The Container Recycling Institute's methodology excludes these imported scrap aluminum cans, thereby arriving at a more accurate domestic recycling rate. Our method is consistent with the measurement methodology used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."


Franklin pointed out that whether one accepts the Aluminum Association's methodology or CRI's methodology, the more relevant issue is the fact that aluminum beverage can recycling has declined every year for the last four years. "No matter whose method of measurement you use," said Franklin, "fewer pounds of aluminum cans were recycled last year than in any year since 1990."


"Our calculations show that 1.4 billion pounds of aluminum cans were landfilled, incinerated or littered last year-272 million pounds more than were wasted in 1990," said Jennifer Gitlitz, CRI senior research associate. "The energy required to replace these wasted cans with new cans made from virgin materials could supply the electricity needs of over three million American households for a year," Gitlitz said. She said aluminum manufacturing impacts water quality and wildlife habitat in the United States, Canada, and many other parts of the world, and produces emissions that contribute to global warming.


"These new statistics on aluminum can wasting come at a time when the nation faces an energy crisis," Gitlitz added, "especially in the Pacific Northwest, where 40% of the nation's primary aluminum is produced."
CRI will be releasing a report on aluminum can recycling and wasting in June 2001

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