Recycling Tin Foil Food Wrappers

Preparing Aluminum Foil for Recycling

recycling tin foilLet’s say you eat out at restaurants, and you do it a lot. If you live in Portland, or other eco-conscious cities, then chances are that the restaurant in question has gone to great lengths to ensure that all of their to-go food containers are either recyclable, or else compost-able. Restaurants like Portland’s Laughing Planet Cafe also use tin foil for the wrapping material around their signature burrito creations. Often, you find that when eating the foil-wrapped burrito, food and grease gets on the surface of the aluminum. While clean, theoretically-unused tin foil is quite obviously recyclable, what do you do about the tin foil that gets dirty with food?

For regular sheets of aluminum foil, here’s the process for recycling: ball up the foil and put in recycling bins with the glass,metal and plastic, unless your local recycling rules dictate otherwise. Note that other types of aluminum food storage materials such as pie pans and lids are also recyclable the majority of the time. And food-covered tin foil? All you have to do is take an extra second’s worth of time and effort, and make sure to rinse off any food from the aluminum foil before adding it to the recycling bin.

Aluminum Foil Facts Regarding Usage and Recycling

  • Americans recycle around 65 to 70 percent of the aluminum used in the household, which tends to include cans and not necessarily aluminum foil. Thousand of tons of foil end up in landfills, where it doesn’t belong. How much of it? Americans throw away enough tin foil to create an a fleet of commercial airliners.
  • Aluminum and other precious metals like tungsten are practically 100% recyclable. Think about the re-use angle too, before you decide to recycle the foil, as it’s a durable material and with a little bit of cleaning, it can be reused several times.
  • It takes 95% less energy to make aluminum from recycled aluminum, versus using virgin materials. For example, recycling a single tin can can save enough energy to run a tv for 3 hours.
  • Americans throw away about 3lbs. of tin foil every year; in the landfills of the planet, we’re looking at almost 400 years before that foil breaks down naturally. If the foil is incinerated, toxic metals and gases get sent up into the atmosphere, which doesn’t help anyone.

For more information on how to recycle aluminum foil, click the link.

[Photo Via: Earth911]

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