Aluminum Can Recycling: To Crush or Not to Crush?


Why Some Yards Won’t Buy Crushed CansCans

Aluminum cans have always been a favorite material of scrappers. A question we get very frequently: should I crush my aluminum cans?  You probably figure it saves space and it’s easier to bring crushed cans to the yard; and while that’s all true, generally our answer to that question is no.

Yards may have their own reasons for not buying crushed cans or aluminum cans in general, but here are some of the common ones we can think of:

  • Debris in crushed cans – We hate to think bad of any scrappers, but there is no stopping anyone from putting debris of any kind, like sand or rocks, and then crushing the cans for extra weight. And when this happens, there’s no way for scrap yards to check (and we’re pretty certain yards aren’t inspecting every single can you bring in like they would with a more valuable material like copper). When they go to sell these cans to a mill, they’re rejected because of the debris contamination and will lose out.
  • Dirty cans – You may be a tidy scrapper who cleans out every aluminum can you collect, but all scrappers aren’t built the same. Think of the things you find in cans: sticky, gross, and smelly stuff, you name it. Now, why would any yard want you to accept that? 
  • Uninvited guests – You’ll find that when dirty cans make it into the yard, there will be some… uninvited guests. Expect rats, mice, bugs, etc. Yards are trying to avoid an infestation by declining cans.

Suggested Read: Where Can You Recycle Your Aluminum Cans?

What Are My Options?

The best thing you can do as a scrapper is to build a relationship with your preferred yard, or even multiple yards if you frequent more than one. Why’s this? If you become a reliable, honest customer of a yard and build a rapport with them, they may be more lenient with you, such as accepting your crushed aluminum cans (maybe something they don’t usually accept at the door).

If that’s not an option for you, there are always different recycling redemption centers that will take your cans for cash, depending on what state you live in. However, these facilities aren’t going to want them crushed for the same reasons scrap yards don’t want them crushed.

Long Story Short…

Don’t crush your cans until you’ve made some calls and found a scrap yard that accepts them or explains to you the way they accept the material.


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