Can You Recycle Aluminum Foil

The Dos and Don’ts of Recycling Aluminum Foil

Aluminum is one of the most readily recyclable materials. According to the Aluminum Association, nearly 75 percent of all aluminum produced in the United States is still in use today. While aluminum cans have been known to be 100% recyclable, there are still doubts about whether aluminum foils can be recycled.

Aluminum foil can be recycled, but it has to be clean. Before placing aluminum foil in your curbside recycling bin, make sure it’s clean and doesn’t have any heavy staining.

Recycled aluminum foil can be back on the shelves as new aluminum cans and foil in less than 60 days. This quick turnaround time and the fact that there is no loss in quality amplifies the positive environmental impact of recycling aluminum foil. You can do your part to make the world green by recycling aluminum that will bring it back from old to new in just a few days.


You can easily toss aluminum cans into the curbside bin, but doing the same with aluminum foil can be tricky. Even though the aluminum foil is completely recyclable, it must be clean to be recycled. Since aluminum foil is used for food wrapping, it often gets covered in food and has to be cleaned to ensure the foil is accepted once it makes it to your recycling center.

Most people do not take the time to clean the aluminum foil covered in food waste and throw it away. This might not be healthy for the environment because if aluminum ends up in a landfill, it takes roughly 400 years to break down naturally.

On top of that, some landfills can incinerate aluminum, releasing toxic gas into the atmosphere. You can do your part to avoid this by ensuring the aluminum foil you use can be recycled by your local recycling program.

Before you send your aluminum foil for recycling, make sure your regular curbside recycling program accepts aluminum foil. Some facilities do not accept it; hence, you will have to ensure it beforehand before getting ready to toss your foils into the recycling bin.

Suppose you’ve learned that your local recycler accepts aluminum foil for recycling. In that case, you can follow a few steps to ensure the aluminum foil put into the recycling bin is fit for recycling.

How Long Does It Take For Aluminum Foil To Decompose In A Landfill?

Aluminum foil takes 400 years to decompose when it’s disposed of in a landfill.

Clean the Aluminum Foil

Since recycling centers cannot take in aluminum foil with food waste, you will have to be sure to clean the aluminum foil. If there are only a few food pieces or bread crumbs on the foil, you can remove them and rinse them with water. However, if there are stains on the foil, try to remove them using soap.

If you can remove the stains, the aluminum foil can be recycled. Sometimes you might realize that your foil is beyond saving if it’s very dirty. If that is the case, you might have to throw it away.

It does not matter if the aluminum foil has holes and burns. They can still be recycled, and you can add them to toss in your curbside recycling bin.

Since aluminum foil is very light, you have to take care while cleaning them not to tear them. Gently rinse the food waste with water and clean the foil so it is free of any organic waste.

What Country Uses The Most Aluminum Foil?

China is the largest producer and consumer of aluminum foil in the world.

Separate Aluminum Foil from Packages

You might have aluminum foil in packages like drink containers and paper boxes. If so, separate the aluminum foil from the packages.

You will have to remove the aluminum foil, clean it, and put it in the recycling bin for it to be taken to the recycling center to be processed. However, if you cannot separate the aluminum foil from the package, the facility will consider it contaminated and not accept it.

Removing the aluminum foil from food and drink containers is not easy. However, if you take the time to remove the foil from the packaging, then make sure you rinse it, or you’re just wasting your time.

How Much Steel Packaging is Saved By Using Aluminum Foil?

Packaging 65 pounds of coffee in steel cans uses 20 pounds of steel but only requires three pounds of aluminum foil-based packaging.

Make Aluminum Foil Balls and Toss them into Recycling Bins.

You should not drop aluminum foil as sheets into the recycling bin since it’s so light. Instead, you should crumple them into balls and toss them into the bin.

Make sure to add sheets together to form a sizable aluminum foil ball that you can be sure will not be easily blown away out of the recycling bin. Do not toss in very small balls because these can tear and get caught in the machinery at the recycling facility.

If you’ve ensured that the aluminum foil you have is cleaned and crumpled into balls and tossed into recycling bins, you can be sure that they will be taken away for processing and returned as new aluminum foils and cans for use.

Where to Recycle Aluminum Foil

You should always check with your local recycling program to understand whether they will take aluminum foil for recycling. This is important because some facilities only accept aluminum cans and will not take in aluminum foil.

There are various reasons why facilities do not take in aluminum foil. It’s mostly due to the effort required to ensure the foil is clean.

Unclean aluminum foil can contaminate the recycling process,; hence, care has to be taken to ensure that they are indeed clean. This can be a bottleneck for processing centers.

You can check for information on recycling centers in your town by searching the web. Earth911 has created a very useful Recycling Locator tool that can show you recycling centers based on your ZIP code. You can also select the materials you’re looking to recycle other than aluminum foil, and the tool will show you centers that accept your materials for recycling.


You may have been surprised at how shiny your foil is once you get it cleaned up. You might have even thought about repurposing it.

We have good news for you – aluminum foil can be used for a second or third time before you send it for recycling. Aluminum foil can be repurposed, and there are a lot of ways that you can reuse it.

We will look at some of the interesting ways you can repurpose aluminum foil that will extend its life before you put it into the recycling bin.

Use in the Garden

A simple way to keep pests and insects away from your plants is to put aluminum foil around the base of your plants. The shiny surface of the foil can scare away some insects.

You will be surprised to see how effective this is. The best thing is that this doesn’t involve pesticides or other poisons.

Eliminate Static Cling

It is not a good feeling when you take clothes out of the dryer and they’re all stuck together. A really helpful way to avoid static cling on your clothing is to toss in a ball of aluminum foil the next time you load the dryer. This will help reduce static cling.


Reduce your ironing time by placing a sheet of aluminum foil under the ironing board. Since aluminum foil reflects heat, you can iron both sides in one go. This is a quick and easy way to save time when you have a lot of clothes to iron.

Grease Remover

You do not have to use a brush to clean the grease on your grill or under your stovetop. You can ball up some aluminum foil and remove the sticky grease.

You can also use aluminum foil to scrub pots and pans. However, do not try this trick on any pans with a non-stick coating.

Protect Pie Crusts

When baking a pie, the crust gets burned during the final minutes. You can avoid this by using aluminum foil. All you have to do is cover the crust in the final minutes of baking for your crust to not get browned or burned.

Painting and Art Projects

Aluminum foil can be especially useful when painting. Instead of using tape to cover fixtures like doorknobs, you can wrap up aluminum foil around the fixtures to keep the paint away. They can also be used in art projects where you can use them for origami and DIY artwork.

Keep the Oven Clean

If you know that you are baking something that will leave a little mess in the oven, it is time to pull out some aluminum foil and place it under what you’re making, preferably on a rack below. The foil will catch the spills, and you will have a much easier time cleaning it up.


Aluminum foil is one of the most recyclable materials that we use regularly. In only 60 days, your recycled aluminum can be back to new and sitting on the store shelf.

Just make sure that you clean the foil or separate it from any other material before you bring it to the recycling center, or it’ll end up in the trash.

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