Recycle tins and cans, says Harry the Hominid

  • August 15, 2014

Maropeng's spokeshominid, Harry

Recycling food tins and beverage cans makes good “cents”, says Harry the Hominid. “Not only does recycling save the environment, but it can earn you a little pocket money, too.”

Collect-a-Can, a local company that drives can-recycling awareness across South Africa, pays R8 for each kilogram of collected aluminium cans, which is around 77 240ml cans.

“Everyone should recycle their aluminium beverage cans – it just makes good sense. We don’t want cans going to landfill when they can be recycled instead,” says Zimasa Velaphi, public relations and marketing manager at Collect-a-Can.

“Aluminium is infinitely recyclable, which means it can be squashed, melted and reconstituted over and over and over again. Aluminium cans are also 100% recyclable – there is no part that we can’t reuse,” she adds.

Maropeng’s spokeshominid, Harry, recently interviewed Zimasa in a bid to find out more about can recycling.

Why should everyone recycle cans?

Baled and stacked cans ready for recycling

Aluminium cans have a lifespan of over 500 years, and steel cans and tins can last for up to 100 years. Quite frankly, we don’t have the space to not recycle these items. Municipalities are running out of land for designated landfill sites, and when we don’t have landfills, where will we put our waste? Every one of us has the responsibility to keep our environment clean; we don’t want to live in unhealthy environments, and we want to preserve our planet for generations to come.

What will happen if we don’t recycle cans?
If every South African drank two cans of Coke while on holiday in December and didn't recycle them, the cans would stretch the distance from South Africa to Australia. We simply can’t afford to not recycle.

Why is can recycling good for the planet?

Bales of used cans on their way to be recycled

Can recycling is good for everyone – not just for the planet. Informal waste pickers who collect cans are able to provide the most basic of meals for their family because they are recycling. Plus, recycling makes perfect sense for the planet since aluminium cans are 100% recyclable, infinitely.

Are all fizzy-drink cans made out of aluminium?
Not all fizzy-drink cans are aluminium; some are made of steel and other metals. Use a magnet to test what a can is made out of. If the can sticks to the magnet, it’s not aluminium. But it can still be recycled along with your steel food cans.

Where can we drop off cans to be recycled?

Turn your cans into art!

It’s important that you first separate your cans – aluminium in one pile and other metals in another – before you deliver them to Collect-a-Can (see branches here). On average, we pay R8 for a kilogram of aluminium (or 77 240ml cans). For steel tins and cans, we pay 90c a kilogram (which is about 32 330ml cans).

What about recycling ring tops?
Around five years ago an urban myth about recycling ring tops exploded across the country. To be clear, we do not accept ring tops for recycling. Don’t believe anybody who tells you differently. We don’t pay for them and we don’t accept them at our branches. The only way to recycle ring tops is to leave them on the can, and recycle the can.

What else can we do with cans?

Reuse your cans by transforming them into something else

Take your cans and turn them into art.

We are currently running a Can Craze competition for schools, which encourages learners to create a structure out of 300 cans. We will award prizes to the most innovative schools (see our website for more details).

We also suggest that you explore different uses for your cans – make a decorated vase or a small flower pot for a cactus; cover a can in buttons and leave it on your desk as a pencil and pen holder … the opportunities for making something creative are endless.

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