Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

Get the facts on aluminum foil and how to stretch your dollar and our natural resource farther.

Facts About Aluminum Foil Reuse and Recycling

Over 75% of all aluminum foil produced in the United States is used for food packaging and much of that ends up the local landfills.  This is an unfortunate result of habits formed by a wasteful society and it is up to each of us to change that behavior.  Environmentalists have criticized the use of aluminum foil due to the high resource costs associated to the production of the product.  There are some simple and cost effective tips you can use to stretch your dollar and aluminum foil farther.

Aluminum Foil Recycling Can Be a Pain

Reuse aluminum foilMany recycling centers and public recycling programs don’t accept aluminum foil, leaving many scratching their heads as to why.  If you can recycle an aluminum can you should be able to recycle foil as well, right?  The fact is, aluminum foil is 100% recyclable though the catch is that it is often much dirtier than cans.  With the sheets of foil often being filled with food waste that can lead to contamination, many recycling center simply won’t accept it.  While American households recycle up to 70% of their household aluminum waste, most of that is from cans, leaving thousands of tons of foil sheets for the landfill.  According to reports, we throw away enough foil each year to build a fleet of aircraft and recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.

Reuse That Aluminum Foil to Reduce Waste

One of the easiest ways to save energy and money is to reuse that old aluminum foil.  Instead of balling it up and tossing in the trash, lay it flat and wash it with soap and water.  Don’t forget that aluminum foil is also dishwasher safe, so just place it on the top shelf when running a load and you will be left with clean reusable foil sheets.  You can reuse foil sheets time and again, saving you money from having to purchase new supplies.

A sustainable lifestyle can be a snap with some very simple changes in your lifestyle.  It is not rocket science, reusing products reduces waste of all kinds, so think before you throw that aluminum away.

Comments (16)
  • Avatar

    Kollammanoj Mar 23 2012 - 4:39 PM Reply

    While recycling IS great, I also think boefre I buy–for instance when I buy soda pop (yep, not at all healthy, but can’t do without my diet Pepsi), I buy it in cans instead of plastic.Plastic can be upcycled–reused only once or perhaps twice. Cans can be recycled over and over and over…Our town has a great program too. We are fortunate! With recycling and now composting, we only have about a bag of trash every three weeks. Yay!

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      Fry Goat Dec 8 2016 - 7:41 PM Reply

      great job on reducing your garbage production! I thought I would add that the embedded energy in producing aluminum is enormous. while recycling aluminum saves over 90% of the original production cost…I’d have to say plastic is actually a better choice, provided you recycle it. While aluminum has many useful applications, I don’t think it’s a great choice for one-time use beverages. I’m not a huge fan of plastic for consumption as there are still many harmful chemical additive that can leach into food items etc.. Bisphenol A is now banned, but there are other potentially harmful chemicals whose effects have yet to be shown to be harmful, but are still have adverse physiological effects.

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    Robert G Nov 9 2012 - 12:53 PM Reply

    Just take the aluminum foil and roll it up into a long narrow tube. Then shove it into an aluminum can.

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    yusra - indonesia Dec 6 2013 - 11:21 PM Reply

    our community need alumunium foil for something positive. NOT for RE-USED.
    we use alumunium foil to produce some handycraft to levelling up the value.

    the alumunium foil we need is commonly used in snack or powder packaging and drink bottle labels (ex : milkpowder, coffee, coke bottles, etc..) also tooth paste tube that we found at sink.

    yeah, maybe 90% people call it ‘garbage’ because it’s not virgin alumunium foil.
    it mixed with paper or plastics and need long process to get the virgin alumunium.
    so, who will save those ‘garbage’ on their home?

    but we need those ‘garbage’. it would prefer in sheet form or maybe in roll.
    we will select the best parts to be raw materials our handycraft.

    in this meantime, we need those ‘garbage’ to be raw materials.
    if you respect and support green environment and our empowerment activity, please send mail to :
    manufacture contributors are welcome.

    thank you,

  • Avatar

    Phil Dec 5 2014 - 3:19 AM Reply

    When they remelt all that foil, cans, etc, doesn’t all the food, pop, etc, just burnup, float to the top and is removed as slag?

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      John Doak May 2 2019 - 10:53 PM Reply

      Yes that is exactly what it does, known as dross, and it contains carbon and mineral ash, of what’s left of the burnt to a crisp food particles, paper, etc.and if usually floats on top of the melt puddle.

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    Matt Jan 13 2016 - 11:08 PM Reply

    Phil, yes the non-Aluminum might burn or slag off but the recycling centers don’t want to pay for the extra weight of the foodstuff, they just want that aluminum. It would be very difficult to calculate the exact weight of possibly dirty foil.

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    roe Dec 31 2016 - 8:03 PM Reply

    still confused. what about baked and burnt on dirt?

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    Leslie Apr 21 2017 - 8:12 PM Reply

    Is it better to use water to wash a pan or save water by lining the pan with foil?

    • Avatar

      John Doak May 3 2019 - 9:45 AM Reply

      Yes that is exactly what it does, known as dross, and it contains carbon and mineral ash, of what’s left of the burnt to a crisp food particles, paper, etc.and if usually floats on top of the melt puddle.

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    Ashi Rajput Jul 6 2018 - 9:59 AM Reply

    I am working in a school and want to know what steps should be taken to manage aluminium foil waste . Is there any place to send used aluminium foil .

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    komal Feb 22 2019 - 2:12 AM Reply

    As of now we go for packet food more rather than cooked food so its natural if the demand grows supply grow as well but we should take care of environment and put all the waste of aluminium foils and cans to recycle so that it can reuse.
    Good Day!!

    • Avatar

      John May 3 2019 - 9:51 AM Reply

      You are so right- as long as the energy and resources are LESS to clean the aluminum foil
      than are needed to gather and remelt the aluminum.
      All states and provinces and jurisdictions SHOULD increase the deposit return fee on ALL aluminum containers, to assure that this MOST valuable of the common consumer used metals gets returned. Remember-Aluminum requires an ENORMOUS energy cost to produce from bauxite ore mostly from in S America and alumina, (the pure Aluminum Oxide) derived the bauxite, once where electricity is cheapest, such as all over Quebec province in Canada (Hydro Electric)

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    junior sotto Jul 13 2019 - 4:03 AM Reply

    nice,recycling can save money and save enery

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