As part of a new environmental initiative, the school switched from selling plastic bottles to cans. While the cans may seem like a hassle for anyone looking to save his/her drink throughout the day, this small change makes a bigger impact than many students realize.
Around 35 billion bottles are used in the United States each year. Of this, only 25% gets recycled. This other 75% of plastic takes around 450 years to completely decompose. Even when plastic bottles do reach the recycling bin, recycling plastic has significantly more limitations than other materials like glass and aluminum. There are thousands of variations of plastic. Each type has a different ratio of dyes and additives that makes its melting point vary. Different types of plastics cannot melt together. Therefore, plastic has to be sorted through in an expensive and time consuming process. The light yet bulky nature of a curvy water bottle means it occupies a lot of space without providing a significant amount of recyclable plastic.
Recycling aluminum is much more efficient. More than half of aluminum cans are recycled each year, or 105 million cans. Their light yet sturdy nature makes them easy for stacking, packing and transporting, all while using a minimum amount of material. Most importantly, however, aluminum is 100% recyclable. The metal can be used endlessly without losing any of its properties. This poster child for reduce, reuse, recycle has more than three times the recycling rate of glass or plastic with 70% of aluminum recycled on average compared to just 3% for plastic and 23% for glass according to the Aluminum Association.
As the world adapts for the sake of the environment, so does the school. Whether at the vending machines or cafeteria, aluminum cans make a difference.