The Life Cycle of a Soda Can

recycling service | residential waste systemsAlthough we know it isn’t good for us, soda, in its many varieties, remains one of the most popular beverages in the United States. We order it at restaurants, bring it to BBQs, sip it at the beach, and purchase it from vending machines when we are on-the-go. The list can go on, but although we are very familiar with these classic soft drinks, do you know where the soda cans that hold them come from? How about where they go afterwards? Below, we explain a little bit about the life cycle of the can of soda that just rolled out of your vending machine.

Where do soda cans come from?

Extraction of Raw Materials

Soda cans are made from aluminum — and trace amounts of other metals, including magnesium, iron, and manganese. Before the cans are created, the metals need to be extracted. Aluminum is made from Bauxite, an ore found mostly in Jamaica and Guinea. These are materials are refined into an aluminum oxide called Alumina. This is then shipped to the United States to be processed.


The alumina needs to be smelted into aluminum after it is shipped. This is a very energy intensive process. In fact, creating smelter aluminum for just one soda can take about a quarter can of gasoline!

Production of Aluminum Soda Cans

After the smelting process is complete, the aluminum is shipped to a facility where the material can be flattened and turned into a soda can. Each can is printed with a branded design and baked before it is sent to a factory where it will be filled with the soda you know and love.

What happens after you drink it?

You throw it in the garbage.

While we do not recommend throwing aluminum cans in the trash, if you do, the soda can will be mixed in with the rest of your residential waste and placed in a sealed landfill.

You recycle it!

Aluminum is one of the only materials that can be recycled over and over again! There is no limit to the number of times you can recycle it, making it one of the most valuable recyclables. Rinse out your can and place it in your recycling bin for us to pick up when you are done. We take care of the rest!

Keep an eye out for other lesser known materials made of Aluminum that can be recycled too. A few might surprise you!

Not sure what day to recycle your soda cans (and other recyclables)? Check our website or give us a call directly to learn more about our residential trash and residential recycling services.

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