How can I reuse or recycle drinks cans?

An empty crushed beer canAside from glass bottles then newspapers, one of the first things to hit my recycling radar was learning to tell the difference between steel and aluminium cans for recycling purposes. I think there was a Blue Peter Christmas appeal to collect aluminium cans or something, so for a good few months I watched with glee as magnets slid off the side of cans. In the name of children’s television related charity, I perfected the art of crushing cans or at least getting them wedged onto my shoes so I could pretend I was a tap dancer. Ah, happy recycling days…

Reusing them though, that’s a bit more tricky. I wonder if recycling of them is so commonplace that people don’t think to reuse them – or if they’re only recycled because there aren’t many reuses for them… Any suggestions?

Best Suggestions

  • Reuse: Reclaim the metal to use for crafts – you can make them into small boxes, flower brooches or statement art.
  • Recycle: Cans – both steel and aluminium – are widely recycled. Some places even pay you per can!
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

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11 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle drinks cans?”

  1. ali winter says:

    i cut the top off cheap cans of beer (shops own value brands) with a can operner and sink them in the garden as slug traps.

    if the edge is sharp i put some gaffer tape over it, i’m not so bothered about the slugs hurting themselves on it but don’t wantg to deal with little cut fingers when my son goes “slug fishing” (he’s so delightful)

    • bev says:

      I always decant my beer into other containers for making traps but I guess I could use an old can for one trap and the beer can itself for the another trap… Thanks Ali!

  2. louisa says:

    I discovered this weekend that you can actually weave two cans together to make one, um, slightly wonky can.

    We’re going to use it as a plant pot

    : )


  3. max says:

    hammer them flat and then make a hole with a nail in each end. After that you can link them together with wire and make a big piece of art out of cans. I have one in my yard, it looks great and makes beautiful colours when hit by the sun, though it eventually gets bleached from the weather.

  4. Katz says:

    You can make art of it, which is quite forgotten now.
    Cut bottom and a top, then flatten the left-over bit. Draw a picture on the labeled side, put it on some soft-ish surface (like soft wood) then use a blunt nail to press the image out. You can also use a hammer slightly. When you done – turn it on the clear side – you will see a nice image you can frame, or use as a ready picture (just bend the sides to the other side, so they are not sharp anymore, and insert a piece of carton so that the labels will not be visible. I don’t know the name of this art in english unfortunatelly. It’s called “chekanka” in russian, if you enter it into Google images – you may see some pictures, but here is a few that I found:

  5. Katz says:

    re-previous post of mine – the art called metal embossing. If you enter this into google images- you will see loads of design examples. It’s a very good decorating technique, you can use it to give new life to old furniture, lampshades etc. Just cut off the top and bottom, then flatten it, draw a picture on the other side, then hammer it out slightly with a blunt nail.

  6. njtomboy says:

    Are you a crafter? Got a Sizzix machine?

    Then here you go:

    I got a sizzix machine specifically for this type of project taught by someone else… I made like 2 pins.. hahahhahaa But I own a ton of dies! hahaha!

  7. Janette says:

    I use my sizzix machine on mine too, but I stick the foam before I cut. I use coke cans for christmas decorations.

    Squares can be cut from the cans, holes punched in the edges and then crocheted together to make bags.

  8. angela says:

    I saw once where a guy got all his friends to save cans for him. He smashed each one the same way with his foot so he had the flat rectangle of the can with one straightish end and one rounded end. He had built an addition to his house and on the back wall over the tar paper he nailed each can, mixing the colors, just like you would nail up shingles. It was so pretty and cool. He did the back side that faced his back garden so no neighbors would complain.


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