Can you recycle aluminum foil? Recycling

Aluminum is one of the best materials out there, because it is very versatile, can be used for many different applications and can be recycled infinite times. But there is one aluminum like material that many are confused about, because we are not sure if it is in fact aluminum and if it can be recycled like regular aluminum. This material is aluminum foil.

Like its name suggests, aluminum foil really is a form of aluminum. Moreover, aluminum foil is made from 100% aluminum, making it pure aluminum, just like the one that aluminum cans or other aluminum objects are made out off. That means that aluminum foil is also totally recyclable. However, not all aluminum recycling facilities accept aluminum. Why is that, you ask? Well let’s find out, shall we?

The beginnings of aluminum foil can be found around the end of 19th century, because then a material known as tin emerged, that served as predecessor for aluminum foil. But tin foil didn’t last long, because around the first decade of 20th century tin was slowly replaced by a more malleable and overall better material – aluminum, which also kick-started the process of using aluminum foil as popular packaging material. Interestingly enough in England aluminum foil is still called tin foil, paying homage to tin foil, even though aluminum foil is much better than tin foil as it doesn’t leave your food that was wrapped in it with a metallic taste, like tin foil did.

The most common uses for aluminum foil is related to cooking. You usually use aluminum foil when you need to wrap up some food or cook something in the oven. Additionally aluminum foil is a common material used in food packaging because a lot of stuff from chocolate to raw meat comes wrapped in aluminum foil and it is also pretty commonly used in different cosmetic and hygiene product packaging. But because aluminum foil is such a popular packaging material, especially for food and other substances and those substances tend to stain and leave residue on the foil, many aluminum recycling facilities are quick to refuse collecting aluminum foil with the other aluminum objects.

recycle aluminum foil

Aluminum recycling plants are made so that the aluminum is melted down, which means that all paper traces get burned in the process, which is why often aluminum recycling facilities don’t bother to peel off labels of cans and such. However it is a different story with traces of foods, sauces, creams and so on. Usually the particles of these substances cannot be fully burned so there is a chance, that they can contaminate the whole aluminum recycling plant, doing a lot of damage to the company that owns it. Which is why many just aluminum recyclers just better choose to not take that chance and refuse to recycle aluminum foil.

Then how can you recycle your aluminum foil?

There are two ways to do it. Firstly you can make sure that you thoroughly wash all of the aluminum foil before throwing it into the recycling bin. And then when you bring this aluminum to the recycling plant you can assure the recyclers that it is clean and won’t contaminate their recycling process. But the other and the best way to recycle aluminum foil is to find aluminum recycling facilities, that specially state that they do recycle aluminum foil, too. There aren’t that many of them out there, but there are a few that emphasize that they accept aluminum foil, making it easier for all of us to live greener lives.

Interested in green lifestyle, blogging and sports. Always searching for ways to improve myself and the environment around me. Editor for


  1. I partly open up the top of a aluminium can with a can opener then fill it with cushed/compressed bits of aluminium foil then once full close the lid to hold the contents in, then place in the recycling bin or store to take down to the local scrap metal company with all the other cans to cash in.

  2. Sutton Turner Says: March 13, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    I never knew how versatile and recyclable aluminum is. My mom recently bought an aluminum piece of furniture that was recycled from foil. Thanks for the information on recycling aluminum.

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