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Collecting Pop Can Tabs for Charity

Murphy_The Aluminum Trail - Copy_edited-3

Originally appears in the Summer 2012 issue

For decades now, thousands of well meaning people have collected aluminum pop tabs for charitable causes. There is no doubt that these millions of tabs have generated some funds. The question is, “Is it worth all the effort?”

Nearly all metal beverage containers in North America are made from aluminum, and most communities have access to recycling programs. When the aluminum soft drink can entered the market in Ontario in the early 1990’s, it provided an immediate a new and valuable source of revenue for many struggling recycling programs.

It takes approximately 32 aluminum cans to equal one pound of aluminum. Market prices fluctuate greatly for scrap aluminum but average between 50 cents and a dollar per pound.  This means each can is worth 1.5 to 3 cents. About 60,000 cans can earn a recycling program $1000 to $2000.

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Bert Murphy is a retired consultant in Environmental Education from the District School Board of Niagara, who lives in Fort Erie, Ontario. He lectures at Brock University in the area of Outdoor and Environmental education and is the Vice Chairman of Niagara Recycling, a non-profit organization which operates the multi-materials recycling facility for the Region of Niagara. He is a long time advocate of recycling and responsible environmental actions.