How to Recycle Aluminum Foil

An Overview On Recycling Aluminum Foil

You pull that beautiful pie out of the oven and remove the aluminum foil cover to peer at your magnificent creation. Aluminum, whether you use it to bake potatoes or cover a casserole, is a tremendously useful product in the kitchen, as are disposable aluminum pie plates and casserole pans. Shouldn’t you be able to recycle aluminum foil products along with your aluminum cans and other metals? Read on to find out!

The making and disposing of aluminum foil

Like aluminum cans, aluminum foil is made from bauxite, a natural mineral found in the planet in great abundance. And like aluminum cans, aluminum foil is technically 100% recyclable - and a valuable recyclable material at that since it doesn’t lose any quality during the recycling process (unlike plastic products which degrade every time they are recycled). Recycling foil has many environmental benefits:

  • It saves 95% of the energy compared to making aluminum from scratch.[1]
  • Since aluminum takes 500 years to break down in the environment, it saves a lot of landfill space.[2]
  • Our dependency on oil and bauxite is reduced since recycling one ton of aluminum saves 40 barrels of oil.[3]

How to recycle aluminum foil

Unfortunately, we often get aluminum foil and foil plates and pans a lot dirtier than our aluminum cans. Because of the food waste left on this material, many recycling centers will not accepted used foil as it will contaminate their batches of aluminum recycling. That said, it is possible that your local recycling program will accept your aluminum foil for recycling. To recycle your foil:

  • Determine acceptability: Call and ask your local recycling authority if they accept aluminum foil for recycling. If so, be sure to determine how clean it needs to be for recycling.
  • Prepare for recycling: Clean your foil after use by wiping it clean and either scraping off food debris or cutting those dirty portions away that cannot be cleaned. These can go in the trash while the rest gets recycled.
  • Put in bin or drop off:Then take your used aluminum foil and either put it in your bin for curbside recycling, or get it ready to take to your local recycling drop-off center.

When recycling for aluminum foil does not exist in your community, here are some steps to reduce your environmental impact:

  • Reduce:First, reduce how much aluminum foil you consume. Instead of using disposable covers for casseroles, BBQ items, and pies, find baking and grilling containers made of glass, porcelain, or metal with lids that can be used over and over again.
  • Buy recycled: Some manufacturers now make aluminum foil of recycled materials, such as IF YOU CARE and Reynolds Recycled. Choosing one of these will at lease diminish the energy and natural resources used to make your foil.
  • Reuse your foil: After baking a pie or grilling, wipe off your aluminum foil as best you can, let dry, and then store until you need it later. This will cut your need for aluminum and save you money, too.



Recycling One Can Saves the Energy Used to Watch the Super Bowl. (2010, February 8). Retrieved July 28, 2010, from The Aluminum Association:

2 Recycling Trivia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2010, from Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality:

3  (Recycling Trivia)

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