7 11, 2012

Aluminum for ALS at Kansas State University

2017-01-26T23:37:31+00:00November 7th, 2012|

Aluminum, college fraternities, and Lou Gehrig – those three things don’t normally go hand in hand, but Kansas State University student Harrison Helmick is looking to tie them together for a good cause.

A sophomore in bakery science, Helmick has started a movement called Aluminum For ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, colloquially known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) as part of his Phi Delta Kappa philanthropy project, and its foundation is built from aluminum cans.

How does the project work? It’s quite simple: Helmick has placed big blue barrels with the Aluminum For ALS logo outside of Kansas State University frat houses. Instead of aluminum cans getting thrown out, Helmick is urging students to put them in the blue barrels.

The aluminum is then collected and turned in for recycling money, and all proceeds are donated to the ALS Association. From the Kansas State Collegian:

“My fraternity was looking for a new philanthropy project, so when I was elected as the philanthropy chair, I wanted to plan something,” Helmick said. “I had always noticed how wasteful it was to throw away bags full of aluminum cans after parties, both in their collectability and in their environmental impact. My goal is to get as many of these barrels around campus as possible.”

Aluminum for ALS barrels are currently in place in 12 fraternity houses. Helmick’s goal is to place barrels in every fraternity house by the end of the semester and eventually in sorority houses, residence halls and potentially even at football tailgates.

“It’s a very simple thing; finish your drink, donate to charity,” Helmick said. “We take care of the cleanup and can provide as many barrels as necessary. Every person can easily get involved.”

As of November 1, more than 400 pounds of aluminum have been collected for the cause. Of course, you don’t have to be at Kansas State University to help – you should always recycle your aluminum (get cash and help the environment) and are welcome to make a donation at the ALS Foundation. Remember, every little bit helps.

6 09, 2012

Aluminum Recycling: Growing, But We Can Do More

2015-06-18T15:33:38+00:00September 6th, 2012|

It’s well-know that aluminum is the most commonly recycled metal in the United States. There’s good reason for that too – its output (mostly in the form of soda cans) has the biggest consumer reach, and with aluminum recycling programs so popular around the country, everyday folks have incentive to collect and turn in cans. It also helps that aluminum is the most efficient metal to recycle.

The good news is that everyone wins when it comes to aluminum recycling. The better news is that aluminum recycling rates have gone up over the past year – seven percent, from 58.1% to 65.1% in 2011 to be exact according to the group of the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute, and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. From Environmental Leader:

“That means 61 billion cans were recycled in 2011, and that aluminum cans are recycled at a rate that is more than double that of any other beverage container, the organizations say. The industry has a goal of reaching a 75 percent recycle rate by 2015.”

A 75% recycle rate by 2015 means growing roughly by 3% for 2012 (which includes ongoing collected data), 2013, and 2014. However, the numbers aren’t quite as simple as “everyone recycle more!”  Here are further details from Environmental Leader:

“A large part of the increase in the recycling rate was driven by imports of used beverage containers. Imports in 2011 increased by about 25 percent, underscoring the need for improved recycling among US consumers as well as the value of aluminum, the organizations say.”

The import of recycled cans essentially swaps out local used cans for recycled cans sourced from other countries – kind of like buying carbon offsets for energy. That means that there are significant ways that both the industry and consumers can achieve this, thus decreasing the reliance on imported cans. The non-profit group As You Sow noted that the true overall recycling rate is about 35% — which is significant, but certainly far off from the ideal 75% (that is, all of the targeted 2015 goal made up by American recycled cans). Their recommendation is to pin a greater responsibility on manufacturing companies; the other side of the argument is to provide more incentives and accessibility to the general consumer.

1 02, 2012

The Solar-Powered Recycling Robot

2015-06-18T15:33:39+00:00February 1st, 2012|

Recycling aluminum has become fun with the solar-powered recycling robot, Dr. R.E. Cycler, that crushes aluminum beverage cans to prep them for recycling.

The robot, whose full name is Dr. Robotic Environmentalist Cycler, is the latest creation of Florida Robotics, a company that makes entertainment and promotional robots to sell in the U.S. and 30 other countries.

To see the Dr. R.E. Cycler in action, people place a can in his mouth and watch through his clear chest and belly as the can gets crushed. The robot crushes a standard 12-ounce aluminum can to less than one inch in size in seconds.

Click here to read the Earth911 article and watch a video of Dr. R.E. Cycler in action.

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