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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Aluminum Can Recycling Proves Lucrative to Habitat for Humanity Affiliates

The high value of aluminum is proving beneficial to Habitat for Humanity affiliates with aluminum can recycling programs. Currently more than 1,000 affiliates have joined the Cans for Habitat program, using aluminum can recycling to help their mission of eliminating substandard housing. In 2006, Cans for Habitat affiliates recycled almost 500,000 pounds, generating about $400,000 in revenue for the construction of Habitat homes.

Recognizing the top participating affiliates and their recycling efforts in 2006, the aluminum industry awarded $100,000 in grants to six outstanding affiliates who grew their aluminum can recycling programs through unique and sustainable marketing and promotional efforts.

"Our Cans for Habitat affiliates never cease to amaze us with their continued dedication and truly astounding accomplishments," said Patrick Kelly, program director for Cans for Habitat. "The aluminum industry is proud to be a part of such a successful program that truly helps to turn 'cans into keys' for those that our less fortunate than ourselves. Without amazing Habitat volunteers, many who deserve these homes would not have been able to receive them."

For judging purposes, affiliates were categorized into returning affiliates and first-year affiliates, and were critiqued primarily in two areas: total pounds recycled and publicity efforts to promote their local recycling programs. These publicity efforts included media coverage, partnerships, marketing efforts, and communication activities surrounding their recycling programs.

-- Returning Affiliate -- First Place Winner:

Habitat for Humanity of Yuma (Yuma, AZ) recycled an astounding 91,000 pounds of aluminum. HFH of Yuma forged a new partner in 2006, Arizona Western College, to gain student support for their recycling program. Students in the environmental science department produced recycling campaign plans for the Cans for Habitat program. Students established new bin placements throughout the campus and developed news articles and public service announcements to educate the community about recycling, focusing both on the environmental benefits as well as the benefit to Habitat. In addition, a large push was made by the college surrounding America Recycles Day on November 14. That effort alone resulted in an estimated 244,800 cans collected and recycled.

-- First-Year Affiliate -- First Place Winner:

Hopkinsville/Christian HFH (Hopkinsville, KY), recycled the most pounds and also developed some valuable partnerships, including a partnership with their area Wal-Mart Distribution Center. Not only has Wal-Mart placed bins throughout its store but the retailer also agreed to donate all expired six- packs of Coca-Cola to the affiliate for recycling.

A full list of the 2006 grant winners includes:

Returning Affiliates
AffiliateCity, StateGrant Awarded
Yuma HFHYuma, AZ$25,000
Grand Island Area HFHGrand Island, NE$15,000
Webster HFHSpringhill, LA$10,000
Rookie Affiliates
AffiliateCity, StateGrant Awarded
Hopkinsville/Christian HFHHopkinsville, KY$25,000
Franklin County HFHVilla Ridge, MO$15,000
HFH of Austin CountyBellville, TX$10,000

Since 1997, the Cans for Habitat program recycled approximately 17 million pounds of aluminum cans with an estimated net value of $6.3 million. The aluminum industry has provided support services and program materials to more than 1,000 participating affiliates nationwide. This includes recycling bins and banners; marketing materials, such as magnets and bumper stickers; public relations assistance, such as event planning and strategic counsel. Together, local affiliates, volunteers, recyclers, national and local retail outlets and civic organizations recycle for the American Dream. For more information on Cans for Habitat, visit

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