Where used aluminum cans go next?

July 17, 2023

Many people throw used aluminum cans in the trash, not knowing that they can come back as new cans over and over again.

To point out the value of aluminum cans that can contain drinks for you to consume. We would like to invite you to see the process of recycling aluminum cans from throwing them into recycling bins to melting waste cans into aluminum sheets for further production into cans.

Having said that, you too can be part of the process of recycling aluminum cans. Wash the cans thoroughly after consumption, and crush them to save storage and transportation space, before putting them in the recycling bin or selling them to a waste collector.Aluminum cans are collected.

Sorted aluminum briquette cans

Afterwards, the collectors will collect used aluminum cans and send them to waste dealer or recycler factories. To sort other aluminum packaging, steel cans, and other materials that may be mixed from aluminum cans before squeezing them into small sizes and pressing them together into square cubes to save space for transportation and storage.

Steel sorting with magnetic belts at recycling plants

Next comes the recycling plant. 

The recycling process begins with shredding, aluminum briquettes obtained from waste sorting plants into smaller pieces. To double-check what is mixed with aluminum cans. The steel is then sorted with a large magnetic belt to prevent steel spray cans and other aluminum that may still be mixed with aluminum cans, as well as wood chips, plastic chips, soil and sand.

Scrap of depainted and cleaned aluminum cans

It then goes through the process of de-lacquering both the exterior paint and the lacquering inside the can. At this stage, a rotary kiln is used using heat, gasification or discoloration on cans, as well as wood chips and other plastic chips that may have escaped into fuel. This generates heat energy which spirals back into the furnace, which greatly reduces fuel consumption.

Gasification systems have the advantage of reducing emissions caused by the incineration and depainting process by re-circulating pollutants and heat into the furnace, reducing energy consumption. This method of decoloration is also an efficient, fast and effective way to give the resulting aluminum the appropriate chemical properties. In order to be used to produce aluminum cans further.

Aluminum can scraps that have been thoroughly crushed and sifted to separate the size.

Once the paint has been completely removed, it is chopped and crushed, followed by sifting to separate the aluminum size coming from the can and from the lid. The can and lid contain two types of aluminum with different chemical properties. After that, it is compressed and rolled to form a thick sheet resembling a coin. Then send it to the factory that melts and molds it into aluminum sheet.

Aluminum annealing

After the aluminum scrap is obtained, it will enter the melting process in a furnace with a temperature of up to 700 degrees Celsius. In this process, chemical values such as pure aluminum, magnesium and silicon are added to meet the properties suitable for each type of aluminum product.

As for the aluminum can and lid, although the same aluminum material is used, it is actually Aluminium Alloy or aluminum that contains other mineral ingredients. The can uses aluminum with medium strength but high flexibility or toughness for easy molding. While the lid uses aluminum that is stronger or more crispy so that it can be opened easily.

Aluminum casting for forming into bars

Extrusion of aluminum sheet to be flat and thin to the desired size.

Slab casting is followed by scraping by screeching the surface of the aluminum rod to be uniform and heating the aluminum rod to a higher temperature again. To prepare the rolling to thin sheets.

The aluminum sheet has been rolled until flat and thin.

In the rolling process, a 4-layer rolling machine is used to roll aluminum ingots that weigh about 30 tons and are about 500 millimeters thick to thin and flat until the thickness of the aluminum sheet is only 50 millimeters, before being rolled into aluminum coils with a length of about 20 kilometers, which can be used to produce up to 1,250,000 cans.

Once the recycled material has been completed, it will be the duty of the aluminum can factory to produce the can body and lid. The material is made from aluminum coil with recycled content or a mixture of aluminum material up to 70% 

 Thank you for good information from Thai Beverage Recycle, a major collector, Anglo Asia Group. and UACJ (Thailand), a manufacturer of aluminum raw materials with advanced technology from Japan.