Cash for cans

Collect-a-Can, SA's top non-profit metal can recycler, makes recycling easy – and they even pay you for it.

Their focus is on used steel and aluminium beverage cans (soft drink and alcohol) as the worst litter offenders, but they also accept empty food, oil, paint and aerosol cans.

Steel and aluminium are both stars of the recycling world – they can be reprocessed over and over again, saving hugely on resources. Manufacturing products from recycling these metals uses about 95% less energy than from new metal.

You can mix all your cans together, but it makes Collect-a-Can's life easier (and they'll pay you more) if you separate them into the following groups before taking them to the drop-off point:

  • Steel beverage cans
  • Aluminium beverage cans (if in doubt about telling them apart: steel will attract a magnet but aluminium won't). 
  • Food, paint, oil and aerosol cans. These should all be empty, and not bigger than 5 litres. Note: if you have oil cans that still contain some oil, don't just dump it; oil is highly toxic to the environment. Rather take it to the Rose Foundation, which recycles oil, or you can ask your Collect-a-Can branch to do so. Obviously, if your cans still contain oil, keep them separate from the others.

Collect-a-Can will even accept rusty cans, although they'll pay less for them. 

Find your nearest collection point on the Collect-a-Can web site, or on the excellent My Waste web site (for all kinds of recycling, not only cans).

- Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, December 2011

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