Why Brazil is Breaking Records for Recycling Aluminum

aluminum-recyclingRecycling is not yet completely regulated and uniformly organized across all countries. In the United States for example, while recycling may be established in large cities, it’s not always available in rural communities just 20 miles away.

Brazil on the other hand, is leading the way when it comes to effective recycling practices. In 2014, the country recycled 98.4 percent of packaging consumed, and has been number one in the world since 2001, reported the Brazilian Aluminum Association (ABAL).

For a greater visual: In 2014, Brazil recycled 289,500 tons of aluminum beverage cans out of 294,200 tons available in the market. The growth was 12.5 percent over the year prior. Broken down, that means 62.7 million cans were recycled per day—or 2.6 million per hour!

Why Does Brazil Recycle So Many Cans?

Across industries in Brazil, the cost of energy has rocketed up, which has trickled into the production costs associated with manufacturing aluminum. Last March, electricity rates in Brazil rose 22 percent—and a total of 60 percent over the year prior, according to Merco Press.

Add high production costs to an economy in recession on the verge of inflation, and you’ve got a natural incentive to conform to the most cost-effective choice. As a result, aluminum recycling was a more popular choice, yet again. Production of secondary aluminum from recycled material consumes 95 percent less energy, Mario Fernandez, coordinator of Abal’s Recycling Market Committee, told EFE.

Most recently (in 2014), aluminum recycling was found to be 1.3 percent more prevalent than in 2013, when the previous record was set. And recycling is a source of income for low-income families, which have organized cooperatives to collect cans.  

Forecast for Brazil’s Aluminum Recycling

One concern is that the amount of refurbished aluminum (and imported scrap metal) may not be able to meet the demand. With a hike of aluminum need, mining and processing aluminum may spike, too. But with even more efficiency, recycling overall in Brazil would double, Angela Gonzaga, president of the recycling cooperative in the Moreira Cesar district of Pindamonhangaba, told EFE—which would be incredible!

If you’d like to learn more about recycling aluminum, contact General Kinematics for more information.

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