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Nationwide Aluminum can recycling rate drops

The Container Recycling Institute (CRI), according to BNAs July 22nd, 2002 Environmental Compliance Bulletin, has said "the declining rate of recycling aluminum beverage cans in the United States is contributing significantly to global environmental problems." The recycling rate for 100 billion aluminum beverage cans sold was at 49% in 2001, a decrease from 55% in 2000. Researchers with CRI have stated that the decline in aluminum can recycling is impacting the worldwide environment through wasted energy and pollution generated from the processes required to produce new aluminum. According to Jenny Gitlitz, CRI's research director, "few American consumers realize that the 50 billion cans trashed last year [2001] must be replaced with new cans made from virgin materials, and that is where the damage occurs." Officials with CRI said that during 2001 almost 760,000 tons of aluminum cans in the US ended up in incinerators and landfills, alongside roads, in parks, and on beaches. Three million tons of greenhouse gases were produced through the process of replacing the trashed aluminum cans. Gitlitz also pointed out that the amount of aluminum cans trashed between 1986 and 2000 had a market value of more than $10 billion (using an average scrap value of 58cents per pound). CRI maintains that the aluminum recycling rate will continue to decline unless financial incentives are implemented to encourage consumers to recycle cans.