Is Aluminum Easier to Recycle Than Plastic?

Is Aluminum Easier to Recycle Than Plastic?

June 6, 2022 0 By Green Uday

Why someone could ask this question: is aluminum easier to recycle than plastic? Is that important for the recycling process?

If we can find out which material is better for recycling, we could simply use it more and more in our life for many purposes.

Is Aluminum Easier to Recycle Than Plastic?

Recycling is the process of repurposing old or used materials instead of disposing of them. While it might seem like plastics are easier to recycle than aluminum, it’s not always the case. Aluminum and steel have a higher recycling rate than plastics because they can be melted down and reused as a new product with little change in quality.

Also, many plastics are more difficult to clean and sort for recycling than aluminum cans or glass bottles. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recycle plastic when you can. Every item you put in your blue bin has value; it’s just that some materials are more challenging to recycle than others.

You see, while most plastics can be recycled into new products, again and again, only certain types can be recycled over and over again without degrading quality.

Why Recycling Aluminum is More Difficult Than Recycling Plastic

Recycling aluminum relies on a chemical process called electrolysis. The process extracts the aluminum from the original scrap and uses electricity to change the aluminum from an ionic form to an electrically charged form. From there, the aluminum is put into a furnace to be melted down.

The problem with recycling aluminum is that the process requires a lot of electricity that uses a lot of water. So, recycling facilities are more expensive to run than plastic recycling facilities. This is why processing a ton of aluminum cans costs $95 while processing a ton of plastic bags costs only $80.

The high cost to process aluminum cans is also why aluminum cans can’t be recycled infinitely. Aluminum is a finite resource, so eventually, it’s going to run out. So, once we’ve extracted as much aluminum from cans as possible, we’ll need to find a new source of aluminum.

Read More: Problems With Recycling Aluminum: What You Need To Know.

Which Plastics are Easiest to Recycle?

You might be surprised to learn that the easiest to process are polystyrene and polypropylene plastics. These plastic items can be easily separated and melted down to create new products, such as outdoor furniture and garden sheds. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is another commonly recycled plastic.

PET is used in food and drink containers. Other easy-to-recycle plastics include high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and PVC.

Which Plastics are Harder to Recycle?

Brace yourself for the bad news: you can’t recycle every type of plastic. Here are some common examples of hard-to-recycle plastics:

  • Hard plastics, such as plastic toys or Tupperware containers.
  • Natural fibers, such as cotton or linen.
  • Colored plastic contains a large amount of dye. Dyes can contaminate other batches of plastic, making it impossible to recycle.
  • Dirty plastic that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned and sorted.
Read More: Go Green Today with these Eco-Friendly House Products.

Aluminum Has a Higher Recycling Rate Than Plastic

Is Aluminum Easier to Recycle Than Plastic

One common misconception is that the aluminum found in soda cans is the same type of aluminum used in, say, a car door or the frame of a house. In fact, all-aluminum is recyclable, even the aluminum in your car. To recycle aluminum, the process is fairly similar to the way that aluminum is recycled during electrolysis.

The aluminum is collected, and then it’s cleaned and shredded into small pieces. It’s then melted down at a very high temperature to form a new aluminum ingot.

What Does Make it Harder to Recycle Plastic?

All plastics are not created equal. One reason it’s harder to recycle some plastics is that they’re often mixed with other types of plastics. For example, a container made of high-density polyethylene might be mixed with PET, and that makes it harder to recycle.

Because of this, many recycling facilities have to turn away loads of clean plastic because it doesn’t meet their standards. That means you may have put the time and effort into cleaning and sorting your plastic, but it might have been rejected anyway. That’s why many recycling plants have a “no plastic” policy. They’ve found that it’s easier just to reject all types of plastic than to try to figure out which ones are okay.

3 Problems With Plastic Recycling

  • Not all types of plastic can be recycled.
  • Plastics can be contaminated by foreign materials.
  • The quality of recycled plastic can degrade over time.
Read More: What Does it Mean to Live Green? Green Living Benefits.

Why is Aluminum Recycling So Hard?

Producing aluminum from start to finish takes 95% less energy than it does to produce steel. However, the process is difficult and expensive. The first step is mining bauxite, which is primarily done in Brazil, Australia, and Guinea. Next, the bauxite is heated to 1500°C and treated with caustic soda to produce aluminum oxide.

The oxide is reduced to aluminum with electricity, then is electrolytically dissolved to yield molten aluminum. Producing aluminum requires a lot of electricity, so it’s best to produce it near where it will be used. That makes it more expensive to transport. It also means that the carbon footprint of aluminum production is smaller than that of other metals.

3 Problems With Aluminum Recycling

  • Aluminum can be contaminated by other materials.
  • The quality of recycled aluminum can degrade over time.
  • Only around 10% of aluminum is actually recycled.

What is Easier to Recycle Aluminum or Plastic?

It is much easier to recycle aluminum than plastic. Plastic is a more difficult material to recycle because it often cannot be separated from other materials. Aluminum, on the other hand, can be easily separated from other materials and is also lightweight. In addition, aluminum can be recycled multiple times. The easiest way to separate aluminum from other materials is by using magnets.

Leveraging this property makes aluminum one of the best options for recycling. This is especially true since many municipalities do not have recycling facilities for plastic.

In addition to its ease of separation, aluminum is also lightweight so it can be transported easily and it can be recycled multiple times without losing its quality.

The most common type of plastic is polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is often used to make bottles, containers, food packaging, and more. After being used, PET is often disposed of in landfills or discharged into the environment as wastewater or sludge. Recycling PET, therefore, allows us to reduce our impact on the environment.

Read More: The Benefits of Living a Minimalist Lifestyle.

Does Aluminum Recycle Better Than Plastic?

Aluminum is one of the most commonly recycled materials, but plastic is more commonly recycled. Both aluminum and plastic are made from crude oil, which can become a problem when oil prices rise. Aluminum is lighter than plastic and is also easier to recycle, so it’s more likely to be reused. Plastic can be difficult to recycle because it’s not always melted down into its original form.

Instead, it may be mixed with other materials that can cause pollution problems. It’s important to recycle your aluminum and plastic whenever possible. Do this by selecting products that are recyclable and by keeping them away from landfills. If you have any questions about recycling aluminum or plastic, contact your local waste facility or visit their website for more information.

Plastic bottles are almost always recyclable, and most cans are too. However, some items like foam or packaging materials are not recyclable at all. The best thing you can do is check with your local government to see what kind of recycling options they offer in your area.

Read More: How to make our earth clean – 9 Effective Ways.


Recycling is something that everyone should try to do, but it can be hard to know where to start. One way to make it easier is to learn which plastics can and can’t be recycled. The next time you finish a drink, don’t throw the container away. Instead, make sure it gets recycled.

The more people who recycle, the easier it will be for everyone. There are a few things you can do to make sure that you’re recycling properly. First, be sure that your recycling bin is actually in your bin.

There are a lot of things that don’t belong in the blue bin, such as paper products like tissues or paper towels. You can also check with your city or town to see if they have any special rules for recycling in your area.

In this post, we have read and learned if is aluminum easier to recycle than plastic or vice versa.