After reviewing the importance of plastic and metal lets put some data and precise benefits of the it’s recycling process, as we saw for the papel and glass recycling:


Here’s a summary of the main benefits of recycling plastics and metals:

  1. Energy saving: Production using recycled packaging represents an 84% energy[1] saving in plastics, 95% in aluminum cans and 75% in steel cans, compared to the energy needed for production from virgin materials.
  2. Reduction in need for raw material: For every ton of recycled plastic containers around 1 ton of oil[2] is saved. For every ton of recycled aluminum, you save 6 tons of bauxite (element from which aluminum is made)
  3. Savings in resources: All of the packaging recycled could supply the plastic manufacturing industry with almost 9% of the resources[3] that it needs
  4. Improving air quality by reducing pollution: Aluminum recycling represents a reduction in emissions[4] of 9.8 tons of CO2 and 64kg SO2
  5. Savings in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  6. Less waste is sent to landfill or for incineration


Plastic and metal recycling saves a lot of energy, reduces the consumption of resources (oil) and GHG emissions as well as improving the air quality

For 1 ton of packaging, and every year we generate more:

  • You save 1 ton of oil (from one ton of plastic packaging)
  • From PET bottles there’s a net benefit in greenhouse gases of 1.5 tons of CO2 equivalent[5]
  • Recycling 1 ton of aluminum saves 6 tons of bauxite, 4 tons of chemical products and 14,000 kWh of electricity[6]
  • Recycling 1 aluminum can save enough energy to run a TV for 3 hours[7]
  • Recycling 1 PET plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a TV for 20 minutes[8]
  • Recycling 40 bottles of water (PET) can make a polar fleece[9]
  • Recycling 80 cans of soda can make a bicycle tire[10]

Want to know more?

 The book Stop garbage. The truth about recycling, Alex Pascual, February 2019

► Packaging that leaves a mark “Envases que dejan huella,” Escarabajo verde program, RTVE (CAST)

i History of a can (CAST)

i Information about the DRS system (Deposit Refund System) (ENG /CAST)


i Plastics Europe web (ENG)

i The most common types of plastics (ENG)

[1]. Annual report 2013 Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, Spanish Government. And alsoBureau of International Recycling
[2]. Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, Spanish Government.
[3]. Prevention and waste management general program, Catalonia 2013-2020
[4]. Study on the recovery of aluminum, Arpal, (Association for aluminum products recycling), 2013
[5]. “Life out of plastic”
[6]. Metals – aluminium and steel recycling. en
[7]. Ibidem
[8]. “Why it’s a good idea to pay attention to the plastic you buy,” La Vanguardia 18 February 2016
[9]. Ecoembes, Equivalence and data,
[10]. Ibidem

Plastic picture by Mr.TinDC and cans picture by Ruth Hartnup

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