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New grant helps MRF recycle an additional 3.5 million aluminum beverage cans

A plastic bag filled with aluminum cans
This grant program is the latest aluminum beverage can industry-funded effort to build on its recycling rates and recycled content.

Ardagh Metal Packaging and Crown Holdings have funded a new aluminum can capture grant that has been awarded to GEL Recycling's Port Orange, FL, material recovery facility (MRF). The facility will install additional can capture equipment as part of a larger facility upgrade. Once installed, this equipment will result in nearly 3.5 million more beverage cans captured at the facility that were previously missorted. 

The GEL facility is the third MRF to receive funding from a grant program facilitated by Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI). CMI partnered with The Recycling Partnership to evaluate and select the grantees, execute the grant program and provide technical assistance to ensure successful implementation.

The grant program builds off the CMI research released last year that found it is critical to capture all used beverage cans (UBC) flowing through MRFs, which play the vital role of sorting single stream recyclables. This research concluded that most MRFs in the United States would not be able to operate without the revenue from UBCs considering they are consistently the most valuable beverage package material in the recycling stream. Capturing more beverage cans means a healthier recycling system.

The grant funds provided to GEL Recycling will be used to purchase a metal detector addition to its optical sorter. The equipment will help eliminate UBCs from being missorted to the plastic pile. The facility is a dual-stream MRF processing 24,000 tons per year mostly from Volusia County on Florida's northeast coast. It is undergoing a general upgrade and this grant ensures the MRF will have modern metal detection.

When the additional nearly 3.5 million cans are captured and recycled each year at this one MRF, it will generate more than $56,000 in new annual revenue and produce enough energy savings to power nearly 1.4 million homes for one hour. Further, the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions avoided each year will be the same as is generated from an average passenger vehicle driving 868,000 miles, which is the distance of driving from New York to San Francisco 300 times.

The first two grantees in the grant program were Independent Texas Recyclers, Houston, TX, and Curbside Management, Ashville, NC. The equipment installed from the first two grants will result in more than 36 million aluminum cans captured and recycled each year that likely would have otherwise been missorted and landfilled. Collectively, the first three grants have catalyzed the installation of additional can capture equipment that will result in nearly 40 million aluminum cans recycled annually. Additional grantees as part of this pilot phase of the can capture grant program will be announced later this year.

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