Today’s Solutions: March 03, 2024

Aluminum is one of the most recycled materials used today—and can be recycled endlessly without loss of quality. But while aluminum cans are easy to throw in the curbside bin, aluminum foil can be a bit more challenging to recycle.

With that said, what’s the best way to recycle aluminum foil? We have the answers for you right here.

Check whether it’s possible

Before you can even consider recycling any of your aluminum foil, you have to determine whether your local provider accepts it. Check your community website or search Earth911’s recycling locator. There, you can find out if it can be put out with your local recyclables or taken to a nearby recycling center. In most cases, if they’ll take aluminum foil, they’ll also accept disposable pie tins and roasting pans.

Assess and clean

Most recycling services and centers ask that you clean the foil before you toss it in with your other recyclables. If the foil only has a few bits of food — like a spot of frosting or a few bread crumbs — then just wipe them off and rinse the foil. If you wash with hot water, the foil may change colors, but that’s normal and won’t affect its ability to be recycled, points out RecycleNation. If the foil has burns and holes, that’s fine and won’t keep it from being easily recycled, says Earth911. But if the foil is very dirty with baked-on cheese, lots of greasy oil, or burnt sauces and gravies, it’s beyond saving. In those cases, you’ll have to throw it away.

Separate items

If aluminum foil is part of a package — like yogurt containers, paper boxes, or drink containers — separate it from the other materials. Once the materials are separated, make sure everything is clean. Anything that is recyclable can be put in your bin or taken to a recycling center. If foil can’t be separated from other materials, you’ll have to throw it away.

Crumple and toss

Once you have your aluminum foil clean, crumple it into a ball. Sheets of aluminum foil can blow away out of your recycling bin because aluminum is such a light material. As you get more recyclable aluminum, add it to your ball until you have something that is at least two inches in diameter, suggests RecycleNation. Don’t toss single balls of aluminum foil into your recycling bin. Tiny bits of aluminum can tear and get caught in the machinery at the processing center.

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