Thursday, September 18, 2008

Off Topic: Recycle Aluminum Cans?

A quick Google search will show a ton of pages that claim something like "recycling one aluminum can will save enough energy to power a 100 watt light bulb for almost 4 hours". That is actually an awful lot of energy. You could go burn your hand on it any time for 4 hours. Such statistics (all statistics?) make me go "what? really?".

Probably what they mean, since it would be the easiest to measure/compute is power-to-create-from-bauxite minus power-to-create-from-a-can. That doesn't even begin to answer the question.

What about mining and delivery of the bauxite, and other overheads on that end? What about the energy used to collect or separate the cans, and bring them to the plant? I assume things like cleaning and sterilizing are included in power-to-create-from-a-can. And I would discount the human cost of picking them out of the trash, or dropping them in the recycling bin.

Just try to find that information with Google! Or even determine which data is included in the quoted stat. The numbers and wording make me wonder whether all the pages are quoting each other. Maybe the first guy to say it made it up.

Here is a skeptic:

Back to stuff I know something about...

1 comment:

  1. You bring up a very good point about this. I'm going to make some videos within a couple months about how recycling aluminum can equate to a certain amount of food being purchase. It sounds strange, but it's really based on how much money a recycler will pay for the aluminum. It will be used to help promote the non-profit "Recycling for Food". Their website is