That Can-do Spirit
Industry experts say Brazil will recycle about 80 percent of the 9.5 billion aluminum cans sold in the country in 2000, putting it on pace to match Japan’s trend-setting rate of 79 percent in 1999. By comparison, the U.S. recycled 63 percent of its cans in 1999 and Europe as a whole recycled 41 percent. The boom in Brazilian recycling is due in large part to enterprising Brazilians who collect carelessly littered cans in cities and towns throughout the country. Recycling cans has become a $110 million-a-year industry employing about 150,000 Brazilians, according to the Brazil Aluminum Association. Producing a ton of aluminum from scratch requires 16,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, while using old cans requires only 750 kilowatt-hours.