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You know it as the material behind your favorite soda’s can, or the foil that keeps your leftovers fresh. But what else do you know about aluminum? We’ve got the basics on how this ultra-recyclable material makes it from the ground to your hands.

  • It’s easy to mine aluminum in an energy-efficient way. This has consistently increased demand for it – and created tons of jobs in the process.
  • First, the aluminum is refined. Then, it goes through the Hall-Héroult Smelting Process before finally being processed into the thousands of products it’s used in.
  • What sort of products, you ask?
    • Vehicles! Due to being lightweight and durable, aluminum is often used in transportation in order to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Buildings! Aluminum is extremely flexible and can be formed into many shapes. This gives builders endless options when it comes to using it in buildings.
    • Packaging! Aluminum helps to protect food from light, gases and moisture in order to keep it fresh longer. Also, it’s lightweight, which can save costs and gas emissions during transport.
  • Most importantly, aluminum is extremely And, it’s one of a few materials that can be recycled over and over again! In fact, over 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use.
  • Recycling aluminum can save almost 100 million tons of CO2 per year. How? It helps to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that come with producing aluminum in the first place.

So, now you may be asking: Why does this matter to me? Well, it’s a reminder as to how important it is to recycle not just your aluminum cans, but anything that’s made out of aluminum! With a material as reusable as this, there’s no reason not to.

In addition – and most importantly – it shows the impact recycling can truly have. It requires 95% less energy and water to recycle a can than it does to create a brand new one. That’s incredible! Just imagine the change we could create if we recycled every single aluminum product out there.

This story is part of NBCUniversal’s 10th Annual Earth Week where we’re inviting our viewers and readers to “Green Up” by sharing steps you can take to help the planet. Follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more. #GreenUp