English

Tips on Recycling Aluminum Foil I

2016-08-01

Aluminum foil is something many of us use when covering dishes of food, cooking, etc. But once you're finished, can it be recycled?

Cans, furniture and other products made from aluminum are very easy to recycle. In fact, aluminum and other metals are among the easiest items to recycle because they can be melted and turned back into new products almost indefinitely. It is highly energy and resource intensive to create new aluminum, so it is definitely worth recycling the metal whenever possible.

One of the biggest departures from the “aluminum is easy to recycle” rule is aluminum foil. The main challenge to recycling aluminum foil is that it is often contaminated with food waste. Grease and oils can damage recycling equipment and create an inferior end product, so food-affected waste has to be thrown away. In addition, all that food will also cause the foil to smell really bad, which will make the staff at your local recycling center very unhappy.

Some communities accept aluminum foil in their recycling bins as long as it is clean. Others are not willing to take that risk. We have some advice for dedicated recyclers who really want to keep their aluminum foil out of landfills. We also share a couple of ways to decrease your use of aluminum foil.

You know, aluminum foil is made of sheets of aluminum that are rolled very, very thin. Those sheets are wound onto a cardboard tube and stored in a cardboard box until you are ready to use them. Generally, the vast majority of aluminum foil is used to wrap food at home or in food service.

Aluminum is a great conductor of heat. If you cover a pan with aluminum foil and leave it in the oven for a long time, the foil will cool much faster than glass or steel once you pull the pan out of the oven. That makes it easy to pull back a corner to check on your food, although you have to be careful of the hot steam.

Aluminum foil is great in the kitchen, but it is also used in insulation, electronics and for art and decorative purposes.

As a rule, to recycle aluminum foil, your first step is to make sure your aluminum foil is devoid of food waste. You can rinse off small bits of food, like cookie crumbs and fruit or vegetable juice. The foil may discolor if you use hot water, but that is totally normal. If the foil is very heavily soiled with oily or greasy foods like meat, frosting, gravy or butter, it will need to go in the trash.