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June 2014 - Aluminium cans transform recycling

The can recycling industry has been on the verge of greatness, ever since the South African beverage packaging industry initiated the conversion from tin-plated steel to aluminium cans in 2013.

The value of used aluminium cans is much higher than that of tin-plated steel cans, therefore aluminium recovery and recycling is a more economically viable option for informal can collectors to earn a living or supplement a low income.

“With the assistance of Collect-a-Can, Sipho Twala, an informal collector who started collecting cans in 2012, has delivered about ten tonnes of aluminium during the month of April 2014, which resulted in about a R80,000 income,” says Henry Selepe, Aeroton branch manager of Southern African can recovery company, Collect-a-Can.

It is estimated that following the conversion from steel to aluminium, between R100 million and R200 million a year would flow into the scrap metals and recycling industry, allowing an additional 2 000 to 3 000 people a source of income from collecting and selling used cans.

Selepe is thrilled about the conversions’ influence on the recycling industry. “Aluminium is already the preferred packaging for beverage cans internationally, which has had an amazing effect on beverage can recycling worldwide. For instance, Brazil has achieved an aluminium can recovery rate of over 98% in 2011,” says Selepe.

“Although many collectors that started off by collecting small amounts of cans for cash have already grown into big dealers, the majority of collectors have not yet realised the value of aluminium cans,” says Selepe.

“Collectors now have the benefit of greater value and return on their collecting efforts, because aluminium as a commodity pays more than any other form of recycling, including steel.”

Collect-a-Can has experienced many other advantages associated with the conversion, especially based on aluminium’s inherent lightweight. “Transportation costs are cheaper in delivering aluminium and the product is also easier to bale,” says Selepe.

The conversion from steel to aluminium cans has already been a positive move for the industry, with greater financial returns, the recovery rate of aluminium cans increasing on a daily basis and massive potential still waiting to be extracted.

The beverage industry is also positively influenced by the conversion. “Aluminium chills faster than steel cans and it also retains the ideal level of carbonation,” mentions Selepe.

Selepe would like to challenge all South Africans to recycle. “Recycling is everyone’s responsibility and we must work as a collective to overcome the litter problem in South Africa”, says Selepe.

Collect-a-Can hosts various educational forums that inform the public about the value that aluminium brings to the recycling sphere. The public can also look forward to some other exciting Collect-a-Can campaigns such as a major campaign for Clean-up South Africa Month and Recycling Day in September 2014.

For more information about Collect-a-Can contact the Collect-a-Can head office on 011 466 2939 or visit the website Collect-a-Can is also on Facebook ( and Twitter (

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