2019 / 17 期





After drinking beer and cola, either crush or stamp the can flat after basic cleaning. Not only will it be obvious that the can is empty, but the physical volume of the can will be reduced before it is taken to the recycling truck.

【EN】‘Crush it before Recycling’ - Easily Tell the Difference between Iron and Aluminum Cans!


In 2018, the recycling volume of scrap containers in Taiwan reached 501,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to the weight of 100,000 garbage trucks. In fact, the list of containers suitable for recycling published by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) of the Executive Yuan includes waste aluminum containers, waste iron containers, waste glass containers, waste aluminum foil, waste paper containers and napkin tableware, waste plastic containers, and waste pesticide containers. As a whole, the monthly recycling volume for metal has averaged about 4 million kilograms, with an overall recycling rate of 53.26%. Since metal containers are considered high value recycling containers, they are cleaned and sorted before disposal, which is the first step of the circular economy.


Recycling equipment can distinguish between iron and aluminum cans from the barcode on them, and what would be the easiest way for us to tell the difference between them? ‘Gently trying to crush the can’ will let you know the difference! If it can be easily crushed, it is an aluminum can and is therefore suitable for filling carbonated drinks. As for iron cans, they are relatively harder, not easily deformed, formed with seams, and are heat resistant. Most of all, iron cans are usually used to fill foods that require high-temperature sterilization. Another way to tell the difference between the two containers is by using a magnet; if the container is attracted by a magnet then it is an iron can, and if not, then it is an aluminum can.


Metal Recycling! Circulation of Metal Containers for Reuse


Iron and aluminum cans for recycling will be compressed into blocks at the recycling station. After iron cans are crushed and coatings are removed by the subsidized institutions of the scrap iron container processing industry, the crushed iron will be sieved after being selected by wind and magnetic separation systems, and then manual selection will be carried out. Hence, waste and non-ferrous metals are removed, and the crushed iron is sent to the steel smelting plant as a raw material for the steel smelting process. It becomes one of the raw materials for heavy industry for the manufacture of steel products of various shapes.


Most aluminum cans are integrally formed so the can body is seamless except for the ring pull. After recovery, the cans are sent to a secondary aluminum refinery. After smelting and purification, it can be made into aluminum ingots or aluminum-magnesium alloy ingots and other raw materials as it becomes one of the raw materials for common life items such as automobile tire rims, residential aluminum doors and windows, or it may once again become beverage cans. In addition, the appearance and texture of lightweight aluminum makes it very popular among the construction and defense industries, thus it has become part of the green building and aviation industries.


Vent before recycling to protect the environment and ensure transportation safety


Before recycling, be sure to completely vent cans that contain gas in an open space.


In addition, high-pressure bottles and cans that are categorized as waste containers should be properly treated before delivery to recycling trucks. High-pressure bottle and cans include hair spray cans, styling sprays, fragrances, insecticides, gas cans, spray paint, and others. Since these containers contain flammable gases or organic solvents, they can easily ignite when exposed to high temperatures or compressed by garbage trucks. As such, the Recycling Fund Management Board calls on the general public to implement waste sorting, and the contents should be completely vented in an open space before being taken to the recycling truck to ensure transportation safety.


The recycling method adopted in most European and American countries involves the use of a recycling machine that will automatically scan the barcode on the container to determine the type of recycling, and return the deposit or tax compulsorily collected from consumers at the time of purchase as a reward for recycling. In recent years, Taiwan has also begun to set up recycling machines to provide more convenient recycling channels to make it easier for the general public who sometimes have to chase after the recycling trucks. The picture shows SeedU automatic recycling machines in Hsinchu City, which recycles waste bottles and waste iron as well as aluminum cans.


One of the primary strategies of the EPA of the Executive Yuan is the promotion of the circular economy. Taking the recycling output value of waste aluminum containers as an example, the annual output value of waste after treatment has reached over NT$820 million. After promoting waste reduction and the proper recycling and disposal of wastes, it is fundamental to extend producer responsibility, establish resource recycling laws, and economic incentives to guide the use of materials to create a resource cycle. As such, it helps improve resource reuse technologies and renewable high-value materials as the ultimate target.