By Katherine Schultz ’15
Due to kegs not being allowed at Colgate, there is a ridiculous amount of beer cans consumed on campus. It is important to understand the benefits and accessibility of recycling in Hamilton, and the positive economic, social, and environmental impacts recycling can have.
Aluminum cans have the ability to be “good for the environment” if properly recycled because they have the ability to save energy, time, money, and natural resources. Unlike plastic bags, which endanger marine life and trash the planet, aluminum cans are 100% recyclable and there is no limit to how many times they can be recycled. Over 100 billion aluminum cans are sold in the United States each year, but less than half are recycled. This means that we are wasting about 1.5 million tons of aluminum worldwide, which contributes to emissions of carbon dioxide, and sulfur and nitrogen oxide during the smelting process. Mining for aluminum can disrupt the land, affect the environment, and create health problems for those exposed to toxins.
Recycling aluminum saves about 90% of the energy needed to make the aluminum because it is more energy efficient to make products from existing aluminum to than to create the aluminum needed for new products. According to the Container Recycling Institute, creating a new can is equivalent to powering a laptop for 11 hours. Additionally, recycling one pound of aluminum (about 33 cans) can save about 7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. Overall, the recycling of aluminum uses less energy, less raw materials, sends fewer materials to landfills, and is cost effective.
If Colgate students want to recycle cans in Hamilton, cans can be brought to Caz Cans at 2352 State Rt. 12B, and Price Chopper. Both of these locations are accessible, but nevertheless if students are feeling lazy and do not want to drive their cans to these locations, if the cans are separated from the plastic cups used, Madison County has a recycling facility that accepts and recycles cans to benefit their center.